Bail is an amount of money that must be paid to a court in exchange for the defendant to be released from jail while he or she awaits their appointed court date. This money is referred to as a bail bond. A bail bondsman is any person or company who pledges this money or, in some cases, property to act as surety for the defendant’s return to court.
Bail bondsmen run businesses specifically for providing bail bond money to defendants. Usually, a 10% extra charge, or premium, on top of the bond money is common, though federal cases may charge up to 15%. Bail bondsmen who are hired by defendants will offer the money to the court and then take the role of overseer of the defendant, ensuring that the defendant appears in court on the designated court date.
If the defendant fails to appear in court, the bail bondsman will be required to pay in full the bond amount or to produce the defendant before the court. In many cases, the bondsman will hire a bounty hunter to locate the defendant and bring them to court. However, this is now illegal in some states and the bondsman will have to retrieve the defendant on their own.
Bail bondsmen are not under any federal regulation; instead, state laws will often deal directly with the regulation of bondsmen. States like California require all bond agreements to be certified and verified by the California Department of Insurance. Because of the variances from state to state, bail bondsmen will have different rules and requirements depending on the state you live in.
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