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The Bail Process
Choosing an experienced bail bond company is the first step in the bail bond process. Choosing the best bail company to fit your requirements is essential.
Here are some facts about the bail bond process both defendant and signer should know when a bail bond is negotiated. These rules or procedures are found in the contracts issued by the bail bond and Surety Company and signed by the guarantors.
Assumptions about one’s obligation to the bonding company, as well as to the courts while out on bond, needs to be understood. Some of the terms and conditions of bail, see Indemnity Agreement for Surety Bail, ELEVENTH Section are described in this document.Here are some minor facts to know. First, the risk of having bail revoked by the bail company while out on bail may occur, if any of the following happens:
- Information made to the bail bond company was untrue upon application
- A change of employment or address was not updated within (48) hours to the bonding company.
If any terms of bail are ignored, a bail company can or may surrender the defendant. Any fees received (10%) for the bail bond are not refundable, if surrender occurs. Read Your Contract! In addition, the guarantor should comply with the terms and conditions of the contract agreement to avoid financial liability. Here are some immediate answers to questions asked by many signers.
What happens if forfeiture occurs?
Answer: Forfeiture or a Failure to Appear does occur. If this happens:
- Cooperate fully with the bail company to reinstate the bond, or help find the defendant to avoid financial penalties.
- Realize some fees, according to the Indemnity Agreement, will be charged for “…expenses or liabilities incurred as a result of searching for recapturing or returning Principal to custody…”
- Bounty Hunters (Second Party) charge the bail company for their services. Those fees will be passed along to the signers.
*Please read THIRD Section of Indemnity Agreement for explanation of additional fees, “including legal fees incurred by Second Party or Surety in making application to a court for an order to vacate or to set aside the order of forfeiture or Summary Judgment entered thereon.”
What does it mean to vacate or set aside forfeiture and what are the costs?
Answer: If a defendant fails to go court (Failure to Appear), forfeiture occurs and a bench warrant will be issued for a new arrest. However, if the defendant wants to be reinstated to prevent getting re-arrested, the bail company may ask the court for reinstatement, providing the request is within the court’s time frame. Example: If a ‘Failure to Appear’ occurred, because the defendant went to the wrong court, or the defendant got their court date wrong, reinstatement is easily approved by the courts. A bail agent can make an appearance in court to request an Order to Vacate the bond/forfeiture. Alerting the bail company as soon as a defendant fails their court appearance can prevent another arrest.
FYI: Re-arrest can increase the original bail amount!
Sometimes, the request or motion to vacate the forfeiture may require an attorney (Second Party) to appear in court for the bail company. In this case, the attorney will charge the bail bond company and in turn, the bail company will ask the guarantors for reimbursement per the contract agreement.
What happens if forfeiture occurs and reinstatement of a bond has lapsed – who pays the forfeiture?
The bail bond company tries to prevent this from happening by contacting all signers that forfeiture has occurred. The warning is sufficient to allow all parties necessary time to prevent financial loss and make the necessary court appearances to solve the problem. The courts send out the first notice within 30 days of the Failure to Appear followed by a Summary Judgment. Now the clock starts ticking. After the courts give the bail company proper notification about the forfeiture, the bail bond company understands there is a time limit to remedy the problem of forfeiture or “return Principal to custody…” However, no expenses or liabilities incurred for recapturing or returning Principal to custody shall be chargeable after the entry of Summary Judgment.
What does this mean to a signer/co-signer?
If this occurs, only the full amount of bail is chargeable to the signers. Any legal fees and fees to a secondary party prior to the Summary Judgment due date are collectible; any fees after Summary Judgment is levied are not collectible – only the full amount of bail is due the courts. The courts will make a demand for payment to the bail company. The bail company then makes a demand to the signers for full payment of the bond.
What is Summary Judgment and why do I need to know about this?
This term is not one most signers understand, nor do the signers understand the full implication of a Summary Judgment, EXCEPT it is mentioned in the bail contract; therefore, an short explanation is due. A Summary Judgment is a legal term used by the courts to notify the bail company, defendant and signers that full liability of the total bond is coming due and will be final – no exception, if the principal (defendant) is not surrendered back into custody before Summary Judgment is due per the court. Some exceptions may apply. To the bail agent and company, this is a red alert. However, much can be done to avoid the possibility of financial liability to all parties IF cooperation and open dialog is maintained, including a dialog with the courts. However, if all pursuits fail to satisfy the judgment, and the person is not surrendered, any real estate pledged can be sold to settle the judgment. Any others assets pledged can be liquidated; however, this is not in the interest of either party. If neither party; the bail company or the guarantors cannot work together, then legal fees will begin to add up. Your bail bond agent and/or bail bond company is your best ally. Everyone involved in the undertaking of bail; such as risk taking, extending credit and payment plans, are established to help you, the signer and the defendant remain free on bail, free to hire an attorney, or free to obtain a court appointed Public Defender, and free to settle all court matters.