A bail bond is a type of surety contract between a court and a person charged with a crime. A defendant in jail appears before a judge for a bail hearing. At that proceeding, the defendant promises to appear for a trial if released from custody. If the judge agrees to set bail and release the defendant, the court sets an amount of money that the defendant must pay to be released.
The bail money is a kind of collateral. If the defendant fails to show up for the court, the court keeps the money. The dollar amount depends on the severity of the charges, the likelihood of the defendant to flee, and other factors. Judges don’t have to set bail at all, and they have the option of setting very high bonds in certain cases.
What Is a Bail Bondsman?
Once the judge approves a bail arrangement and sets the amount, the defendant can either pay the full amount to the court, stay in jail, or hire a bail bondsman. Most defendants don’t have large amounts of cash to turn over to the court to serve as collateral for their freedom.
A bail bondsman is a person who makes an agreement with the court to pay defendants’ bail in full if they fail to appear for trial. Monroe County bail bonds companies pay cash to the court, usually a percentage of the bail amount, and charge the defendant a fee for this service.
Bail bondsmen’s fees are usually around 10% of the full bail amount, though some states have placed caps on the amount a bond agent can charge. The bail agent collects the fees upfront before signing documents to get the defendant out of jail. In some areas, bail bondsmen may accept collateral in lieu of cash from the defendant.