What is a bail bonds agent?
A bondsman also known as a bail bonds agent is someone who will provide a loan for (be it money or some form of property) as bail for a criminal defendant in court. A bond agent provides a similar service that you might expect to find from a bank, however a bank is naturally going to be more reluctant to provide a loan for a criminal defendant due to liability reasons. A bail bond business is typically comprised of individual bondsman that work for or represent a corporation. The bondsmen we are familiar with in the United States are only found within the U.S. and to a lesser extent within the Philippines. Practicing bounty hunting in most countries has been outlawed as it tends to correspond with what may be considered kidnapping.
The profession of bonds agents began in the U.S. in 1898 in San Francisco by the McDonough family. Bondsman typically require an agreement with the local court systems to provide a blanket bond which pays the bail of the defendant if they do not appear on their assigned court date. In addition to this a bondsman will usually have an agreement with an insurance company, bank, or financial institution to draw on funds outside their normal operating hours. In many states such as California, a bail bonds agent must have a lengthy agreement with the California Department of Insurance to begin their practice.
The laws pertaining to bail bond agents vary from state to state within the United States of America. The interest or fees on a loan provided from a bond agent are typically in the range of 10% – 15% of the total bail amount. Some states have a minimum fee that must be paid in the event that a total bail amount percentage does not meet this fee amount provided by the state. In some cases, depending on the bail amount, a bond agent may take collateral or a mortgage (not only pertaining to homes) in order to secure the full legal bond amount issued by the courts. Certain states are integrating a system for the criminal defendant to post a cash bail directly to the court for typically 10% of the full bond amount to circumvent the need for a Bondsman. Bondsmen need to be licensed by the state and sometimes county they practice in since they work closely with law enforcement records and financial institutions.