If you find yourself needing to sign a bail bond contract, here is an overview of what is involved in the bail bond contract and what you agree to when you sign on the line.
A bondsman’s purpose is to provide their client with a secure and legitimate release from the jail in which they are being held, until their scheduled court date. This enables the defendant to be able to go about their lives in a normal manner until the case against them is resolved.
When signing a bail bond contract with a bail bondsman, you are acknowledging and taking responsibility for certain matters, including:
- Being responsible for the “bail bond premium” the fee of the bail bond rate (10% in the state of California). This money is fully earned by the bondsman when the bond is provided to the jail or court and the defendant is released. That means even if the defendant is not charged with a crime or is found innocent, the bondsman is owed the fee.
- Being responsible to make certain that the defendant shows up for every court appearance. This is your most important responsibility when you sign a bail contract.
- In the event that the defendant does not show up for court (called “failure to appear” and sometimes abbreviated FTA), you will be responsible for paying for other expenses like administrative and personnel time to related to the case such as compensating the bail bondsman for any long distant phone calls, travel expenses, bounty hunters (when used), fees associated with failure to appear in court on the scheduled date (which will be the entire bond amount), as well as court cost and attorney fees.
- Providing the defendants current address and place of employment, and keeping them informed of any changes.
- If the defendant leaves town and skips court or moves, you are legally obligated to share their whereabouts.
Under the circumstance that you need a bail bondsman, after you have found a legitimate agent to use, read the documents carefully and pay close attention to details. Do not be afraid to ask questions, as if they are a great company, they will be happy to answer. If you find something that is inappropriate or that you feel should be disputed, contact the California Department of Insurance.