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12 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Bail Bonds

Frequently Asked Questions About Bail Bonds

Most people know very little about bail bonds until someone in their life is arrested. Then you need a crash course, which is what this article is; a quick reference to the most common questions. What are bail bonds, and how do they work? Are bail bonds agents cops? Are bail bonds refundable? Are bail bond companies open on the weekends? Read on about the 12 most frequently asked questions about bail bonds.

Q: What are bail bonds and how do they work?

A: Financially speaking, a bail bond company is basically a lending institution combined with a law enforcement assistance organization. Because many people who are arrested lack the cash to pay for bail out of pocket (it may range from a few hundred to many thousands of dollars), bail bondsmen provide the service of lending them bail money for a 10 percent fee, not unlike a bank charging interest. The bail bond company then pays the full bail amount to the court, allowing the defendant to be released until trial. When the defendant appears for their court date, the court returns the full amount of the bond to the bondsman. If the defendant “jumps bail” and fails to make their court appearance, the bondsman is allowed to pursue, arrest, and return them to law enforcement custody, at which point he can recover the bail money he posted on their behalf.

Q: Why bail bonds?

A: A judge sets bail according to the severity of the crime and the amount of risk that the defendant will flee prosecution if set free. It’s often a hefty amount of money so that the defendant is more likely to appear in court than to part with the cash. Bail bonds provide a service to the law enforcement system by reducing jail populations. They provide a service to defendants who can’t come up with the full amount of bail, for which they charge a 10 percent fee. They do an even greater service for these defendants, who, upon being released, can more effectively tend to their lives and legal affairs. And it allows them to be productive members of society as they await trial, which benefits the community.

Q: What is a bail bonds agent?

A: The terms bail bond company, bail bonds agent, and bail bondsman are used interchangeably all the time, but technically, a bail bonds agent is a licensed individual who has passed a rigorous examination and becomes licensed in the state of Kansas to provide financial resources to defendants who are awaiting trial. They are authorized to pursue and arrest defendants who fail to appear for their trials, and to return them to law enforcement custody.

The shorter answer is that a bail bonds agent can lend you money for bail at a 10 percent fee, then come after you, old-school, if you don’t make your court appearance.

12 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Bail Bonds - Jail house with an open cell

Q: Are bail bonds agents cops?

A: Nope, but they can arrest you. A bondsman plays a very unique role in the American legal system. When pursuing a bail jumper, they mostly use traditional law enforcement methods, but they’re actually allowed more latitude than police in certain situations.

For example, when law enforcement officers want to enter a house where they believe a suspect is hiding, they have to apply for a search warrant and demonstrate probable cause to the judge who issues it. But a bail enforcement agent doesn’t have to go through that red tape. U.S. Supreme Court rulings allow bounty hunters to legally cross these types of boundaries when pursuing a defendant for whom they have paid bail.

Furthermore, when a defendant agrees to let a bondsman pay their bail, they sign away their right to refuse the bondsman’s search of any dwelling they occupy, as well as their right to due process of law during the arrest. A bond company may also require other special conditions as a part of posting bail, such as curfews, drug tests, etc. It all goes into the contract.

Like police, bounty hunters in Kansas are allowed to carry guns and to use them in self-defense.

The only limitation on the bondsman is that he must carry professional identification during the pursuit.

Are you enjoying this blog about the 12 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Bail Bonds? If so, you should definitely check out the The Official Guide to Bail Bonds in Kansas.

Q: Can bail bonds arrest you?

A: Yes, bail bond companies are authorized to make arrests and return suspects to justice. Sometimes it may be the bondsman himself, and sometimes it may be a bounty hunter hired by the bondsman. Both are legally authorized to apprehend and arrest defendants for whom the bond company has paid bail.

Q: Who do bail bonds work for?

A: Bail bond companies are independent contractors who work closely with law enforcement and court authorities to provide a service to defendants who can’t post their own bail, so technically, they work for the defendant. And in fact, a good bondsman is passionate about doing everything he can to help the defendants he serves. But if the defendant fails to make a court appearance, the bondsman begins working for himself, pursuing the defendant to recover the bond money he’s placed into court custody. Too many bail jumpers can drive a bond company out of business, and then no one’s interests are being served.

Q: Are bail bonds refundable?

A: Sorry, no, the 10 percent premium you pay to the bond agent is not refundable, even after you appear in court. They get the entire amount of posted bond back from the court, once you’ve appeared, but they keep 10 percent. That’s how they make a living.

If, on the other hand, you post your own bail—all of it—then show up for your court appearance, the full bail amount is refunded, whether you’re found guilty or not.

Q: Are bail bonds public records?

A: The fact that you are arrested is public record. The arrest record may also list the name of the bond company that pays your bail. But any information give to the bond agent is confidential, and like attorneys, bondsmen adhere to a strict code of client confidentiality. The only way this information can be made public is if, in the course of investigating your case, the legal system subpoenas information from the bondsman as evidence.

Q: Are bail bonds open on weekends?

A: Oh, gosh, yes. Life happens at all hours, but even more so on the weekends, so Big Fish Bail Bonds provides 24/7 service. Being arrested and imprisoned is frightening, and we’re here to help people through the process—and get them out—as quickly as possible, all the time.

The next question is, “Can you actually be released from jail on the weekend?” The answer is, “Maybe.” It depends on your charges. Some offenses have standard bail amounts, and when this is the case, a bondsman can usually pay the amount and get you out over the weekend. More serious offenses, however, may require the defendant to face a judge before bail is set, and judges don’t hold hearings on weekends, so you’re stuck in the clink until at least the following Monday.

Q: Are bail bonds companies profitable?

A: The bail bond business is profitable, but it’s also extremely risky. Not all defendants make their court appearances, which means the bond company loses the money they posted until the defendant is returned to legal custody. They also have to absorb the costs of pursuing the defendant. It doesn’t take many bail jumpers to take a big bite out of profits.

Being a bail bondsman also requires a huge financial investment, as they are required to maintain sizeable cash reserves in order to remain in business.

Q: Can bail bonds take your taxes?

A: If you fail to pay a bondsman, they can’t garnish your wages or tax returns directly, but they can file a lawsuit like any other creditor, which could result in a garnishment.

Q: Where to get bail bonds?

A: If you’ve ever driven around Wichita, Big Fish Bail Bonds isn’t hard to spot. You’ve probably seen our billboards with the web address: bigfishbailbonds.us, or if it’s easier to remember: bailmeoutquick.com. Or call (316) 262-4100. We’ll take care of you.

12 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Bail Bonds - Locked gate leading to the outside - Photo by Najib Kalil on Unsplash