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What is Bail?

Bail is the means by which the U.S.criminal justice system permits the release of a defendant from custody while ensuring his appearance at all required court proceedings. Bail is the legacy of Angelo-Saxon jurisprudence wherein defendants were delivered to their sureties, who gave security for their appearance. Bail bonds initially were put up by people who pledged their own property as security for the bond. The commercial bond approach is by far the most effective form of bail, as demonstrated in the Bureau of Statistics study that compared commercial bonding with all other pre-trial release methods in getting defendants to court.

When a person is arrested on probable cause of having committed a criminal offense, he or she is incarcerated and booked into a detention facility. Bail is determined by a preset bail schedule or magistrate prior to arraignment. A bail agent is contacted, and he or she arranges to post the defendant's bail, whereupon the defendant is released. The bail agent charges the defendant a premium (usually 10% of the bond) for assuming the risk of the defendant's not appearing. If the defendant fails to appear, the court declares the bond forfeited and the bail agent, usually after getting an opportunity to recover the absconded defendant, has to pay the forfeiture, which constitutes the full amount of the bond.

Most states regard bail as a form of insurance. Hence, bail agents are licensed and regulated like any other insurance producer, subject to certain basic qualifications and pre-licensing and continuing education requirements. Most states also require bail agents to be appointed by an admitted bail insurance company. In addition, some states require that the bail agent be certified by a bail insurance company with a ''qualified power of attorney,'' the purpose of which is to confer limited authority on the agent to execute bonds.

Bail agents perform an extraordinarily valuable public service to law enforcement and accused people alike. The Bail Clause of the Eighth amendment to the Constitution embodies the longstanding Anglo-American tradition of favoring pretrial release of accused people. This frees up crowded jail space and permits defendants to participate more fully in their own defense. Bail agents, backed by financial resources of surety companies, make possible the pretrial release of in excess of 2 million defendants annually, at no expense to taxpayers, by providing assurances to the state that the people charged with crimes will appear as scheduled to answer charges.

(Provided by the State and Local Encyclopedia of Law Enforcement by Larry E. Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief)

Types of Bail Bonds

Surety Bail Bonds
A private system of bail, free of taxpayers support. Privately licensed bail agents post bonds with the court, guaranteeing a defendant's appearance. Appearance becomes the sole responsibility of the bail agent and is the most effective bail system.
Cash Bonds
A percentage of the bond is posted with the court by the or arrestee or their families. This is a governmental system. While the complete our online court receives 10% of the bond, 90% is forfeited if an individual fails to appear.
Own Recognizance Bonds
This system is a government system in which people who have not been arrested before swear before the court that they will appear on their own accord for all required court dates.
Professional Bonds
This system is when an individual who owns real property receives a license from a state to use their own property as collateral for clients they post bond for. The courts monitor the liability Written as it cannot exceed a percentage of the property value.
Pre-Trial Release Bonds
A government operated bail system

Additional Information

What is an arrest?
According to Black's Law Dictionary the absolute definition of ''arrest'' is the apprehending or detaining of a person in order to be forthcoming to answer an alleged or suspected crime.
How does a Bondsman Work?
If a Defendant does not have the actual cash amount of the bail set by the judge, they may contract the services of a bail bondsman. The bail bondsman is paid a percentage of the bail amount (usually between 7% to 10%) with sufficient collateral for the remaining money. He then posts a surety bond with the court ensuring the dollar amount of the bond as set by the judge to be paid in the event that a forfeiture occurs.
What if the person does not show for court?
The bail bondsman who posts the bond with the court has the right to apprehend (arrest) the defendant and produces him or her to the court of jurisdiction. If this is done within a time frame as set by the court, the bail bondsman will be able to recover his losses. The Bail Bondsman can delegate his authority to arrest to another, such as a Bail Enforcement Agent (Bounty Hunter).
How are Bondsman Governed?
Bondsman or sureties, have the authority to arrest their Principal (the person on bond) from a Supreme court ruling cited Taylor v. Taintor, 16 wall, 366 which states, in part: ''When bail is given, the principal is regarded as delivered to the custody of his sureties. Their dominion is a continuation of the original imprisonment. Whenever they choose to do so, they may seize him and deliver him up in their discharge, and if that can not be done at once, they may imprison him until it can be done. They may exercise their rights in person or by agent. They may pursue him into another state; may arrest him on the Sabbath; and, If necessary may break and enter his house for that purpose. The seizure is not made by virtue of new process. None is needed, It is likened to the re arrest by the Sheriff of an escaping prisoner.'' Also se : Masterson v. Hathaway, 296 111.42, 68 N.E. 1053 and Commonwealth v. Brickett, 8 Pick. ( Mass) 138; Pickelsimer v. Glazener, supra, Cf Ex Parte, Chance, (D). (C Tex; 2 Fed. Supp. 393 andcases collected in 73-1370; Cartee V. Staet, 162 Miss. 272, 139 So. 620; United States v. Lee, (D.C. Ohio) 17 Fed.)
Bail Enforcement Agents derive their authority to arrest from the Surety who in turn is supported by Nicollis v. Ingersoll, 7 Johns, 154 which reads, in part: ''I see nothing, on general principals, against allowing this power to be exercised by an agent or deputy, and no case is found where this right has been denied....''
Are Bail Enforcement Agents Licensed?
Some states require bounty hunters to have a ''Runners License'' and/or to complete designated hours of classroom training, whereas some states do not have regulations regarding the bail enforcement industry. This is rapidly changing with a national trend towards states' legislation to refine and define who bounty hunters are and what they can and cannot do. This movement requires all bail enforcement agents to successfully complete a certification and licensing procedure before being allowed to apprehend a fugitive bail jumper.

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