You understand the concept of bail: pay a sum of money to get out of jail during trial. But knowing that you can either pay court directly or pay a bail bondsman, you’re wondering what exactly is the purpose of a bail bondsman? No matter who you pay, you’re still getting out of jail, right? What’s the point of having this third-party middleman?
The bail bondsman is an agent for the surety company. He or she will meet with the defendant and anyone who will be signing on to the bail bond as a cosigner. Cosigners are those who are financially responsible for payments due if the defendant does not appear in court. The agent will work with these members to come up with a payment plan that is acceptable and doable for all.
Over the course of the payment plan period, the bail agent will be paid 10-15% of the full bail amount. Nothing is paid directly to court when an agent is involved. But, this 10-15% is not-refundable, unlike paying court directly with no agent involved. When no bail agent is involved, 100% of the bail is paid to court, but is fully refundable at the end of trial.
The bail agent has the power to revoke the bond at any time. If the defendant does not appear in court, it is up to the bail agent to track him or her down. The bail agent has his or her own reputation and job on the line. The bail agent may also have some fees to pay to the surety company in the case that the defendant is non-compliant with his or her release terms.
There is risk to both methods for bail – with or without the bail agent, though the risks with the bail agent are less.