Finding a Bail Bonds Agent (U.S. Law)

by tylercook on May 2, 2012

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In the United States, when you or a member of your family is in jail and about to be arraigned, you may be set free if you are able to “post bail”. Once the bail amount is established by the court, unless the crime is severe you likely have the option of posting bail, which releases you from jail under the commitment that you will show up for your criminal hearing.

Why Bail Bonds?

Most of the time, the bail figure is fairly steep, at least too steep for most people to afford in a day’s notice. Bail can range from pocket-change to the value of a home (or higher), and to post bail in a short period of time, many people need to hire a person who is called a bail bondsman.

A bail bondsman is a person who works for a bail bond company. The company issues a bond to the court, which is a pledge that they will pay the bail amount to the court should the defendant fail to show up in court on the appointed date. Most bail companies have a borrowing arrangement form a bank or insurance company, which provides them with the capital they need to operate. Bail bonds are for the full amount of bail, but bail bond companies charge the defendant a fraction of that amount, generally between 10 and 20% of the bail.

This amount is non-refundable and is the commission charged by the bail bond entity for posting the bond. In some instances, the bonds can accrue interest as well.

Therefore, on a $10,000 bail, the bondsman will collect $1,000-2,000 from the defendant and issue the court a bond for the full $10,000. When the defendant presents themselves at court at the appointed time, the bond is returned and the agent keeps the fee. Many people also use the services of a bail bondsman to avoid having to liquidate long-term assets in a “fire sale”.

So, how can you find the right one for your needs?

Talk to Jailors

Bail bondsman may be the only option in many situations, but there are ways to make sure that you pick the right bondsman for you and that you avoid getting scammed. One thing that you should definitely do is talk to the employees at the courthouse and see if there are any sketchy companies to avoid. Some bondsman representatives solicit prisoners, employees, and desperate jail visitors advertising their services, and the employees who work in the jail will know who these people are and that they should likely be avoided.

Review Licenses and Certifications

You should check for licenses and certifications. Bail agencies are just like any other business- the best ones are recognized. Reputable agencies will usually have their information readily available to guests in their offices and on their company websites. Any bail agency that is not straightforward about their work should be avoided. Knowing the terms of the bail bondsman, seeing customer reviews, and having specific details about the company regulations and processes will help you know some companies are better than others.

Government agencies can help you determine which bail agencies are the best as well. Many bonds agencies will advertise it when they are certified through the local state or federal government regulatory offices, and professional societies. If they don’t and licenses or certificates for their business, ask if they participate in any sort of licensing. If not, you may want to visit a new place, and look for someone who is certified.


Go to at least a few different offices and websites, and don’t just settle for the first bondsman you find. You should trust the person helping you, and the agency should be polite and professional to you when you are interacting with them. There is no reason to go with an agency and a bondsman that makes you uncomfortable in any way, and if they do, you walk out and find someone else. There are many resources in the yellow pages, online, and at the jail to find different options. Options will also let you compare rates and find the best deal.

Even though finding a bondsman can be a stressful process, once you find a bail bonds agent that you can rely on, you will be happy you took a few more minutes and really thought about your decision.While the agent directly across the street from the courthouse may be perfectly respectable, location doesn’t make it so.




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