Surety Bonds and Bail Bondsmen
Surety bonds are bonds that are posted by a licensed surety bail bond agent with the court. This type of bond means that a bail bondsman is taking on the responsibility of making sure that you appear in court at the designated time. Surety bail bonds consistently prove to be the most effective type of bail, based upon a study performed by the US Department of Justice.
This study showed that defendants released on surety bail committed fewer crimes. Also, they appeared for their court appearances more than other types of release. Most likely this is because the appearance of the defendant in court is the sole responsibility of the surety bail agent.
One issue to watch out for is surety bondsman that say that they can do the bond for less money, which is not legal. If a bondsmen offers to perform the service illegally and the authorities find out, it could have a negative effect on the outcome of your criminal case. Make sure not to give bondsman money without a receipt and a copy of a contract. Ask beforehand about the companies’ ability to post large bonds. The bondsman may not even have the ability to do it. Make the bondsman prove that they have the ability to post the bond.
Please be advised that the bail industry has individuals that practice the business unethically. Many take advantage of clients, such as yourself, with statements that are false and make promises regarding fees and what is required to post a bond that simply aren’t true.
Bail Bondsman Fees
If you find a bail bondsman that is ethical and professional, and you choose to hire them, you will have to pay them a fee to do so. Under the regulations set by the insurance commissioner’s office, bail bondsmen must charge their clients to post bonds for them. They are required by Connecticut state law to charge 10% of the first $5,000 of the bond and 7% of the remainder. Even though bail bondsmen are required to charge that, this doesn’t always occur. In fact, many criminal defendants end up only paying bondsmen a very small percentage in order to get bonded out. You will have to speak with individual bail bondsmen to learn about their fees.
After some contact with a bail agent, payment of the premium is made. Payment may include additional expenses, for example; court filing fees, travel etc. The bail application and any supporting documents are explained by the surety agent and signed by the indemnitor and defendant. Collateral may be provided by the indemnitor and reviewed by the surety agent. Then the surety agent promptly posts the surety bond. After the bond is posted, the defendant is release and told what their responsibilities are to the surety agent and the judicial system.
Collateral is something of value that is given to the surety agent to make sure the defendant appears in court. If the defendant fails to appear in court when notified and can’t be convinced to appear in court, the collateral posted can be used to cover the bail amount. Examples of collateral include:
- Real estate
- Expensive assets such as jewelry
- Cosigner signature
A cosigner signature is the most common form of collateral. In this case, a third party will act as a cosigner on your contract with the bail bondsman or the bond you post in court. If you do not appear in court, it is the responsibility of your cosigner to pay your bond. This is an incentive for the defendant to appear in court. A third party cosigner is oftentimes a family member, which results in the active participation that a defendant shows up to court.
Surety bond is not your only option. There are other types of bonds that exist and can be used, however there are some downfalls to using these types of bonds. For instance:
- These options tend to take significantly longer to post.
- Very strict requirements.
- They involve costly fees such as appraisals and attorneys fees.
- They require a motion before the court.
Regardless, if you are interested, the most common type of bond that is not a surety bond is a cash bond.