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Bail Information
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Bail Information
If you've been arrested you will most likely require the assistant of a bail bond agent (bondsman). This is an individual or corporation that pledges money or property as bail in exchange for you to appear in front of the court system to decide the outcome of your case.

Who determines the bond amount?
The judge who issues the arrest warrant also sets the bond amount. Bail is the amount of money that must be paid to allow a person to be released from jail before his/her case is resolved. The bond acts as assurance that the person who has an arrest warrant obeys the law and appears for their court date.

Why use a bail bond agent?
The benefit of using a bail bond agent is that they are qualified to deal with criminal defendants, often securing their customers release much quicker than if you tried to represent yourself. Bond agents have an agreement with local court officials through a bank or credit provider, in which they agree to post a "blanket" bond  which isn't  reversible. This guarantees the court will be paid even if the defendant for whom the bond agent is responsible for doesn't appear.

Bond agents generally charge a fee of 10-15% of the total amount of the bail. Payment of this fee is required in order for the bond agent to post your bond for the full amount. This fee is not refundable and is the bond agent's commission for services. Note that bond agreements vary by state. Some states charge more or less depending on laws or charge for other expenses involved in the case.  It's important to get all the information you can before hiring a bail bond agent so you know the fees involved and choose the one that's right for you.

What happens if you don't show up for your court case?
Failure to appear in court, is never a good idea. If you fail to appear for your court date, the bond agent is then allowed by law to bring the defendant to the jurisdiction of the court in order to recover the money paid out. This is usually done through the use of a bounty hunter whose job is to capture the fugitive for a monetary reward or bounty. If someone accepts bail, they essentially surrender several legal rights in return for being let out of prison. This allows a bounty hunter to enter your property to re-arrest you if you attempt to escape.

Some states outlaw the use of bounty hunters. In this case each bail bondsman is responsible for apprehending his/her own fugitives. Note that bond agents are legally allowed to sue any persons who guaranteed the defendants appearance in court. Any money paid to the court for the defendant will be forfeited should the defendant fail to appear.

In most cases, bond agents have to be licensed to carry on business within each state. Selecting a bail agent that's right for you is a very important decision in the legal process of arrest. There are many choices and bail bondsmen out there. Laws vary by state, but understanding the basic rules regarding posting a bail bond will help you make a more informed decision.
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