The bail bond is a contract between the bail agent (bail bondsman), the courts, and the person posting the bail (co-signer). The bail bondsman, as well as the co-signers are the people who are responsible for the defendant showing up for all their court appearances.
Money, in the form of a bond, is required by the court as an incentive to keep the defendant from fleeing once released. The bail agent charges a fee for the posting of this bond. The fee varies from state to state, but in Georgia the fee is up to 15% of the face amount of the bond posted. Collateral is usually required to ensure that the bond is secure, and the bail agent is indemnified against loss in the event that the defendant fails to appear.
The amount of bail is set by the court and is dependant on the severity of the crime as well as how much of a flight risk the defendant is deemed.
The bail bondsman provides a guarantee to the court that the defendant will appear in court when summoned by the judge on all appearances until final disposition. The defendant will also have to check in regularly with the bail bondsman as a condition of his or her release.
Bail bonds are granted when a family member or friend contacts the bail agent before the defendant is released. Arrangements are made for the posting of a bail. After an agreement is signed, the bail agent posts a bond for the amount of the bail, to guarantee the defendant’s return to court.
If the defendant fails to check in, and the bail bondsman or the co-signer are unable to locate the defendant, the co-signer is immediately responsible for the full amount of the bail. After the defendant is located and arrested by the bail agent, the co-signer is responsible for all of the bail agent’s expenses while looking for the defendant.
Defendants have the option of arranging for their bail through a bail bondsman or paying the court directly the full amount. When using a bail agent, the defendant provides collateral to the bail bondsman. The bail bondsman or bail bond company agent will then guarantee to pay the court if the defendant fails to appear, by posting a surety bail bond power of attorney with the jail or court.
After the defendant has completed all court appearances and the case is closed, the bail bond will be dissolved and any collateral given to the bail bondsman will be returned to the defendant or whoever posted the bond within 10 business days.
A co-signer always has the responsibility to ensure that the defendant appears in court as and when required on-time. The co-signer must know the whereabouts of the defendant at all times and must immediately notify the bail bondsman if the defendant has moved. This is very important because the collateral that the co-signer posted for the defendant is at risk if the defendant fails to appear.