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- Why do we have bail bonds? Under our system of justice, a person is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the accused the right to reasonable bail, pending trial, except for capital crimes.
- What is a bail bond? A bail bond is a document setting forth an amount of money which will be paid to the court if the defendant does not appear before the court. The bail bond is intended to guarantee that the defendant will go to court. It is similar to an insurance policy; i.e., if the defendant does not show up, the bond must be paid to the court.
- What is a commercial bail bond? If the defendant cannot post the full amount of bail bond himself, he can employ a commercial bail bond company to post a commercial bail bond.
- How does the public benefits from bail bonds? The commercial bail bond is the only type of pretrial release that does not expose the “non-criminal taxpayer” to any burden. The commercial bail bond is completely guaranteed by the bail bond company for the full amount of the bond. The bail bond company must bear all expenses for the apprehension and return of the defendant that fails to appear for court. If the bail bond company is unable to apprehend the fugitive defendant, it will have to pay the court the full amount of the bond.
- How much does a commercial bail bond cost? The premium charged by the bonding company is set by the State of Arkansas. There is a minimum charge of $35, which covers bonds up to $350. The premium for a bond in excess of $350 is ten percent of the amount of the bail bond. Arkansas law does not allow a bonding company to charge more or less than those amounts. The bail bond premium is not refundable. In addition to the premium paid for the bond, the company is required to collect fees for each bail bond it writes which are paid to the county, state and public defenders fund. Those fees are set by the State legislature.
- What is a “cosigner”? A cosigner is someone who agrees to sign a promissory note for any balance due on the bond at the time the bond is written. If the defendant does not pay the balance due, the cosigner is responsible for paying any amount remaining to the bail bond company, pursuant to the terms of the promissory note.
- What happens if the defendant does not appear? The defendant is obligated by the bail agreement to appear at each and every appearance required by the court. If the defendant fails to appear, the court issues a notice to the bail bond company. The company has a specified number of days in which to return the defendant to the jurisdiction of the court. The bondsman has the right to arrest the defendant, wherever he may be. Failure do so will result in the forfeiture of the bond. The indemnitor is liable for all costs involved.
- What is an “indemnitor”? An indemnitor agrees to assist the bail bond company in locating the defendant if he fails to appear for court and/or pay the bail bond company any expenses it incurs in apprehending or attempting to apprehend the defendant. Collateral in an amount above the amount of the bond may be required. If the defendant is located and returned, the indemnitor is responsible for all costs involved in locating and returning the defendant. If the defendant is not located within the necessary time and the bail bond company has to pay the bond forfeiture to the court, the indemnitor is responsible for paying all apprehension costs plus the amount of the bond to the bail bond company. You should not agree to be an indemnitor unless the defendant is well known to you.
- How do you get out of bond liability? You are no longer liable for the defendant’s bond when he has completed all of his court appearances, and when all premiums have been paid. It is best to contact the agent when the bond is exonerated by the court for the fast return of any collateral pledged and to confirm that the bond is exonerated. In the event of forfeiture, the indemnitor is liable until the full amount of the bail and all expenses have been paid to the bail bond company
- Most bondsmen require extensive information regarding the defendant, his family and friends, before posting the bond.
- State law requires a bonding company to obtain collateral or indemnitors to secure all bail bonds. Indemnitors should be people who know the defendant well and are confident that he will take care of his obligations under the bail bond.
- Co-signers should assist the bondsman in locating a fugitive in order to avoid excessive expenses.
- Sometimes several trips are necessary in apprehending defendants. It may cost thousands of dollars to locate and return a fugitive. These expenses are charged to the indemnitors on the bail bond.
- If you sign on a bond, you should be aware that it could cost thousands of dollars if the defendant does not fulfill his obligations!!!
- Be sure you know a person very well before agreeing to sign on a bail bond.
- Many bonding companies have conditions with which the defendant must comply. If he fails to abide by these conditions, the bondsman may re-arrest him and be released from the bail bond.
- Defendants must keep in touch with the bonding company which encourages them to maintain steady jobs and to stay out of trouble.
- If a defendant does not go to court as required, the bonding company is given a period of time to apprehend and return the fugitive to jail. The bondsman has the right to arrest the defendant, wherever he may be.