The Bail Bonding Process

The bail bonding process is fairly easy and straight forward.

Once a person has been arrested it is typically the responsibility of someone else to take care of the bonding process.

The first thing a person should do is contact a bail bondsman, this can be done on the phone or in person, in some cases where your state does not allow commercial bail bonding you would contact the jail in which the person is incarcerated.

The bondsman will want to know the name of the person in jail, your name and phone number. The bondsman will call the jail and get the details. The bondsman will then tell you what the charges are and what it will take to get the defendant out. If you are ok with things at this point you can tell the bondsman to go ahead with the process. One thing to remember is that there are probably other bonding companies and you are under no obligation to deal with the first company you talk to. If feel uneasy at any point, feel free to talk other companies.

All companies are different. For the same bond, some bondsmen may want some type of security, while others will not. Some will seem friendly and helpful while others may seem harsh and cold.  Feel free to shop around.

Once you have decided on a bondsman, tell them you want to go ahead with the process. The bondsman will call the jail and have them write the bonds. Typically the bondsman will have some paper work to fill out. One document will be general information about the defendant and yourself. Another document will be a surety agreement or promissory note, this document can have various names. The surety agreement simply states that if for any reason the defendant does not fulfill the obligations of the bond, you (the co-signer), agree to pay the bonding company the full value of the bond. In some cases you will responsible for paying other expenses such as the cost of finding the defendant. The third document generally is called “the terms of the bond”. This is the document that pertains to rules the defendant is required to adhere to as required by the bonding company. The defendant will have to sign this.

Once the paperwork is complete the bondsman will go to the jail and sign the bond. It is at this point the defendant will be released. After the defendant is released the bonding company will generally want them to come to their office to complete their portion of the paperwork.

The above is a quick synopsis of the bail bonding process. For greater detail, please continue to read further.

THE FIRST CONTACT:

When you contact a bondsman, the first impression is very important. Your bondsman will be watching the entire process play out. The vast majority of bondsmen are extremely keen on every aspect of the process. When a person needs a bondsman it is important the right person make the contact.

The caller should be:

1)    Polite and respectful. When you speak to a bondsman be polite and respectful. Do not be demanding, demeaning or condescending. A lot of people seem to think they are in control of the situation when calling a bondsman. You are playing on his or her turf, he or she makes the rules.

2)    Able to talk somewhat intelligently. It is always best to show the bondsman you have some level of intelligence. Most bondsmen are educated, talk to them like that. You don’t have to talk like a New York City lawyer just talk reasonably intelligent. Your bondsman is not, your Brah, your homie, your peep, your bestie, your home skillet, and he certainly isn’t, yo boy. Don’t talk to them like they are.

3)    Sober and not stoned. It is rather interesting how many calls we get from people who are obviously, drunk or stoned. What is even more concerning is when they show up at the office drunk or stoned. You will be denied if this is the case.

4)    Patient and not rushed. We understand that getting arrested is not always convenient. We understand that some people that go to jail actually have a job or somewhere important to be. Be patient and do not rush your bondsman. When your try to rush us it throws up all kinds of red flags. When rushed, I will typically run a check on his or her criminal or court history. 9 out of 10 times that I do that, I usually find out the person has a record of not going to court, on bond elsewhere or on probation or parole. Don’t appear to be rushed, even if you are. Be patient.

5)    Knowledgeable of the details. Always know the details. Your bondsman will ask a series of questions to determine if the bond is one they are interested in doing. When a person doesn’t know simple everyday information about the person in jail, it throws up more red flags, likely ending in a denial of service.

WHAT TO SAY?

When talking to a bondsman it is always best to be completely honest and answer all questions to the absolute best of your knowledge. As I said before bondsmen are very well equipped to tell when someone is being deceptive, dishonest or evasive.

Anything that gives the bondsmen any reason to think things are not on the up and up will end up with a denial of service. This is not a court of law, we do not have to be able to prove it, an idea that things are not adding up is enough for a bondsman deny service. Remember, we have a multitude of resources to verify what you are saying.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD CO-SIGNER?

The qualities of a good co-signer will vary with the charge and the amount of the bond. Bondsmen are going to be looking for someone with a solid work history and may ask for verification of that history. We also look for a stable history at your residence. The residence history we can verify, we understand people move, so we are looking at the overall history. The work history will be the responsibility of the co-signer to furnish.

The co-signer should also be the person making the call to the bonding company to avoid third party translations, confusion and misunderstanding.

Ask the bondsman what types of information you should bring with you. Every effort should be made to bring everything the bondsman asks for. On certain bonds I require at least 5 years of employment on the same or equivalent job. I also require they verify that employment. I can’t count how many times the co-signer has shown up with their last check stub and nothing else.

You should also be clear on what constitutes a good job. Be honest about what you do, your employment verification will shed light on what you actually do. If you are a cook at the Burger Doddle, be honest about it. There’s no harm in being a cook at the Burger Doodle, I actually appreciate them very much. I had a guy call me one night about a fairly large bond. I told him how much it would cost and told him I needed a strong co-signer with a very good job. I ask him what he did and he told me he was a chef on a military base near here. I am thinking he is working at the officers club or something similar. When he came to the office, it came to light that his definition of chef included putting burgers on that little traveling rack thing at the burger joint on the base. Nothing wrong with that at all, just doesn’t fall into my definition of chef.

When determining who is going to sign, start with the best qualified person you know and work your way down. It looks really bad when you call or bring several people at different times to sign and none of them qualify. We are also very wary when you tell us you make exactly the amount of money we are asking for, have been on your job exactly the length of time we want and been living in your house exactly how long we want to see. It just doesn’t add up. When you come to the office, come as you advertised or come with the person the bondsman is expecting. When then bondsman is expecting a person making $50,000 for the last 5 years working at a bank and you show up as a person that is a clerk at the local convenience store making $17,000 a year and have been there for the last 6 months, you will be denied. Do not try the bait and switch scheme, we have seen it before.

WHAT IS A BONDSMAN LOOKING FOR?

Bondsmen are looking for good solid bonds. We realize we are going to sign bad bonds. There is no way to get around it. It’s part of the business. We want to see cosigners that are solid or as solid as we can get within reason. We want to bail people out that we think are going to go to court.  What we are looking for in great part, is a reason not to do the bond.  We look for inconsistencies, anything that doesn’t make sense. If you are honest and straight forward and have reasonable work history, you shouldn’t have a problem.

DOES THE DEFENDANT NEED AN ATTORNEY?

The definitive answer to this question is, ABSOLUTELY.

The playing field in a court of law is undeniably uneven. In short, the defendant is a tadpole swimming in a sea of great white sharks. A defendant is always well advised to take their own shark. In the court room you will be confronted with many well educated people, whose job is to put you under the jail. You don’t stand a chance at a fair trial unless you are represented by a competent and effective attorney. I am not saying the Judges, Prosecutors and Law enforcement personnel are crooked, simply put, they make the rules and they know how to play the game.

There are situations where an attorney may not be worth the investment. I know a lot of people that would gain absolutely nothing by being represented by an attorney. A person with an extensive criminal history may not care about a conviction for misdemeanor shoplifting, where a person with no criminal history would. If you go to court without an attorney, then it begs the question as “Dirty Harry” puts it “do you feel lucky……well… do you”.

It has been said “he who represents himself in court has a fool for a client”.

CAN A PERSON GET COMPETENT REPRESENTATION FROM A PUBLIC DEFENDER?

Competent, yes.  Effective, NO. It all goes back to the old saying “you get, what you pay for”.  I am not saying public defenders are not competent attorneys, just not as effective as they would be if hired on private basis. Public defenders have huge case loads and not near enough time prepare an effective defense. I don’t know of one public defender that is going to put hours into preparing your DUI case. In many cases, where a person is represented by a public defender, they are being represented by someone they just met 30 minutes ago. That is a bet I, for one, am not willing to take. Public defenders are paid pennies on the dollar to provide the defendant with the level of representation as required by law.

Some of my fellow bondmen are not real happy about this section being published because they think it educates people in how to scam a bondsman. This section is, in fact, intended to educate people about the bonding process and how to talk to a bondsman. My point to them is that even if a person does use this section polish their presentation, a reasonable bondsman will still be able to see through the charade and thus, still be able to make good decisions.