Bail Bonds Frequently Asked Questions

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Question: Can I finance part of the bail bond fee?
Answer: Yes. Depending on your circumstances, we will review with you your particular case and decide how we can best make arrangements for payments.

Question: What are the release options when someone is arrested?
Answer: There are basically 5 forms of release options available today. They are:

Surety Bond
This process involves a contractual undertaking such as the one explained above involving a Bail Bondsman, an Indemnitor and the Court. The Courts tend to favor this form of release because it guarantees that if the defendant fails to appear in court, someone (the Bail Agent) will immediately make an effort to find the defendant, apprehend him/her, and bring him/her back to the court of proper jurisdiction. By involving family and friends of the defendant, a Bail Bondsman and the Courts are reasonably assured of the Defendant's appearance.

Cash Bail
Cash bail means that the person who is trying to obtain the release of the defendant must deliver the full amount of bail in cash to the jail facility where the defendant is being detained.

Property Bond
Property Bonds involve the placing of local real estate (homes only, no raw land or out of state homes) with the Courts as security for the release of a defendant. This process typically takes one to two weeks because it requires a Judge's approval, a property appraisal, a comparable sales comparison, and the Clerk's acceptance. However, most states do not accept property bonds.

Release on Own Recognizance is another method of release and it is given to defendant's who have been in the community for many years, have solid jobs, strong family and community ties, and present little or no risk of flight. This release program is usually administered by a county agency or through a local law enforcement agency. A criminal history background check is performed and a recommendation is given to the court based on those findings. This form of release is common only for first time offenders and for non-violent offenses. Since there is no financial or other security placed with the court to insure the defendant's return to court, there is little incentive for them to appear.

ELMO and Pre-Trial Services
ELMO stands for ELectronic MOnitor, and is usually a condition of release in addition to a regular bail bond. The ELMO program is administered either by the local Pre-Trial Services Agency or the local law enforcement agency. This device is usually in the form of an ankle bracelet. It sets off an alarm if a person strays too far from its base located within the defendant's home.

Question: So what is a bail bond anyway?
Answer: A bail bond is a three-party contract between the Courts, the Bondsman, and the Indemnitor (also called a Cosigner or Guarantor). It is the Bondsman who guarantees to the Court that the accused - when released on bail - will be present for each and every court appearance in the future. In turn, the Indemnitor guarantees to the Bondsman that he/she will make sure that the Defendant goes to Court when required. For this "Bond Contract", the Bondsman charges a percentage of the total bond.

Question: How much does a bond cost?
Answer: In Florida and many other states, state court bonds usually cost 10%. Higher in some states due to assessment fees and other fees. Federal Bonds cost 15%, and Immigration Bonds range from 15%-20%, depending on the collateral used and the risk.

Question: Is the premium (the bail bond fee) refundable?
Answer: No. The bail bond fee is fully earned once the bond is posted for the defendant and he/she is released or transported to another facility.

Question: What is collateral?
Answer: Collateral is anything of value that is placed with the bail agent as security for the bond.

Question: What can be used for collateral?
Answer: Collateral can be your home, rental property, land, cash, bank CDs, stocks, bonds, credit cards, boats, airplanes, helicopters, motorcycles, expensive cars and other high-priced items.

Question: When is the collateral returned?
Answer: The collateral is returned once the bail agent receives a Bond Discharge from the court. A "Bond Discharge" is the document that officially releases the bail agent from any further responsibility on the bond. It usually takes 7-10 days for the bail agent to get the discharge once the case is over.

Question: How long does it take to get released from jail?
Answer: That really depends on where the person is being held at. Some jurisdictions like city jails take an hour or so, and other jurisdictions like the county jails run by the local sheriff can average 2-8 hours, but can take as long as 12-24 hours. Immigration facilities usually take 6 hours, and Federal facilities take 2-3 hours. No matter how long it takes, S.C. Bail Bonds will be monitoring the process to insure an expeditious release.

Question: How do I know when the Defendant has to go to Court?
Answer: All courts notify the defendant by mail of their court dates. As a courtesy, most jurisdictions also notify the bail agent of the court dates, too. This is done either by mail or by phone. In almost all cases, the courts will notify the defendant at least several days before the court date. As the Indemnitor, you will be notified either by telephone or by mail from our office of all court dates that we are given by the courts. It is then your responsibility to make sure the defendant knows about the court date. In addition, during regular business hours either you or the defendant can call our offices and ask if you have any upcoming court dates.

What is Bail?
The term Bail is used in several distinct senses: (1) It may mean the security-cash or bond-given for the appearance of the prisoner. (2) It may mean the bondsman (i.e., the person who acts as surety for the defendant's appearance, and into whose custody the defendant is released). (3) As a verb, it may refer to the release of the defendant (he was bailed out). The first meaning is the most common and should be employed for clarity.

Admission to bail is the order of a competent court that the defendant be discharged from actual custody upon bail. The discharge on bail is accomplished by the taking of bail (i.e., the acceptance by the court or magistrate of security-either an undertaking or deposit-for the appearance of the defendant before a court for some part of the criminal proceeding).

Bail is evidenced by a bond or recognizance, which ordinarily becomes a record of the court. The bond is in the nature of a contract between the state on one side and the defendant and his sureties on the other. The agreement basically is that the state will release the defendant from custody the sureties will undertake that the defendant will appear at a specified time and place to answer the charge made against him. If the defendant fails to appear, the sureties become the absolute debtor of the state for the amount of the bond.

When talking about bail, what do you mean by the term undertaking?
An undertaking is a permissible type of bail security. The taking of bail consists of a competent court accepting an undertaking of sufficient security for the appearance of the defendant, according to the terms, or the surety will pay a specified sum to the state. Corporate sureties are commonly used, and the court will accept an admitted surety insurer`s bail bond if executed by the insurer`s licensed bail agent and issued in the insurer`s name by an authorized person.

Must you always use a bail bondsman?
The defendant, or any other person, may deposit the sum mentioned in the bail order or bail schedule. Cash is accepted, and it is the practice for each court to adopt a written policy permitting acceptance of checks or money orders, upon conditions that tend to assure their validity, in payment of bail deposits. Some courts have a maximum amount over which a personal check will not be accepted. Depending upon the jurisdiction, government bonds may be accepted.

What if someone believes that the money to be used to bail someone out is the product of criminal activity?
The judge or a magistrate may stay the release of a defendant if a peace officer or prosecutor files a sworn declaration demonstrating probable cause to believe the source of the consideration, etc. was feloniously obtained, or the judge or magistrate has probable cause to believe the source was feloniously obtained. If probably cause exists, the defendant then bears the burden by a preponderance of evidence to prove that no part of the source was so obtained. A defendant who prevails must be released on issuance of a bail bond as specified.

What is the purpose of bail?
The purpose of bail is to assure the attendance of the defendant, when his or her presence is required in court, whether before or after conviction. Bail is not a means of punishing a defendant, nor should there be a suggestion of revenue to the government.

Is bail a matter of right?
Although the right to bail has constitutional recognition in the prohibition against excessive bail, bail is not always a matter of right. However, with certain exceptions a defendant charged with a criminal offense shall be released on bail. Persons charged with capital crimes when the facts are evident or the presumption of guilt great, are excepted from the right to release on bail. However, a defendant charged with a capital crime is entitled to a bail hearing in the trial court to determine whether the facts are evident or the presumption great. A crime is a capital offense if the statute makes it potentially punishable by death or life imprisonment, even if the prosecutor / government has agreed not to seek the death penalty. It is presumed that the risk of flight of the defendant is great when he or she is facing death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Is the Public Safety considered in the decision to admit a defendant to bail, or to deny Bail?
Bail can be denied in certain non-capital cases based upon a finding of substantial likelihood of harm to others. When the facts are evident or the presumption great, bail may be denied in the following instances: In felony cases involving acts of violence, or felony sexual assault offenses on another person, if the court finds on clear and convincing evidence that there is a substantial likelihood that the release of the accused would result in great bodily harm to others. In a felony case, if the court finds on clear and convincing evidence that the accused has threatened another with great bodily harm, and that there is a substantial likelihood that the accused would carry out the threat if released. The requirement of findings based on clear and convincing evidence implies that a hearing will be held on the issue. If there is existence of a substantial likelihood of public harm it would be determined on the basis of the specific circumstances of the case and prior history of the defendant. The decision to grant or deny bail is subject to review on petition by the defendant.

What is considered by the Court in fixing the amount of the bail?
The amount of the bail is primarily within the discretion of the judge or magistrate, with only two general limitations: First: The purpose of bail is not to punish, but only to secure the appearance of the defendant, and it should be fixed with that in mind. Second: Excessive bail, not warranted by the circumstances. Is not only improper but a violation of constitutional rights. In fixing the amount of the bail, the court takes into consideration the seriousness of the charge, the defendant's previous criminal record, and the probability of the defendant appearing at the trial or hearing. Additionally, if public safety is an issue, the court may make an inquiry where it may consider allegations of injury to the victim, threats to the victim or a witness, the use of a deadly weapon, and the defendant's use or possession of controlled substances. A judge or magistrate setting bail in other than a scheduled or usual amount must state on the record the reasons and address the issue of threats made against a victim or a witness. The court must also consider evidence offered by the detained person regarding ties to the community and ability to post bond. The bail amount set by the court must be the minimum amount of bail that would reasonably assure the defendant's appearance. NOT the Maximum!

Does the bail bond continue forever, can you get it back?
When the bail has served its purpose, the surety will be exonerated (i.e., released from the obligation). Exoneration normally occurs when the proceeding is terminated in some way or on the return of the defendant to custody. After conviction, the defendant appears for sentence. If sentenced to imprisonment the defendant is committed to the custody of the sheriff, and the liability of the surety terminates.

What if the defendant is sentenced to probation?
A defendant who is convicted and given probation is released from custody, and the bail must be exonerated.



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