When you bail someone out of jail and sign a bail bond contract you are known as the indemnitor. As such, you assume a responsibility to the court and the bail bond agent.
WHAT ARE MY RESPONSIBILITIES IF I GUARANTEE A BAIL BOND?
You take full responsibility for the defendant to show up in court when you bail someone out of jail. Most bail problems and issues such as a forgotten court date or illness are easily resolved and rarely escalate beyond a simple phone call. That said, if you are considering bailing someone out and you have reason to believe they may not show up for court or may leave the area, please, do not bail them out. You are not criminally liable, but you may be civilly liable. Our Bail Indemnitor Disclosure Statement is provided for you for clarity.
It’s important that you understand the entire bail bond process and your responsibility as an indemnitor before you agree to guarantee a bond for someone.
THE ROLE OF BAIL BOND AGENTS
Most people can’t pay the entire bail bond amount by themselves and so they turn to licensed bail agents for assistance. In these cases, the defendant (or a friend or relative of the defendant) pays 10% of the bail amount to the bail bond agent and agrees to pay the full amount if the defendant fails to appear in court and cannot be located.
In turn, bail agents guarantee to pay the court the full amount of the bail bond if the defendant doesn’t appear for trial.
I Signed a Bail Bond Contract, What are My Responsibilities?
Many people are quickly put in the position to help a friend, family member or loved one who has been arrested. With all the anxiety and quick timing wrapped around the bail process, many don’t take the time to actually “process” exactly what they are taking responsibility for when signing for a bail bond.
When signing a bail bond contract, you (the indemnitor) will take on the following responsibilities:
- The first and foremost responsibility is that you (the indemnitor), along with the bail agency, will make sure the defendant returns to every one of their court dates without fail.
- For some reason, should the defendant fail to return to court, you will also take on the responsibility of paying additional fees, on top of the bail premium if the bail company has to hire a fugitive recovery agent to bring the defendant back to court.
- Finally, if the defendant cannot be located, you will be made responsible to pay for the entire amount of the bail which was originally set by the court. If collateral was taken (such as real estate lien) at the time of signing the contract, that will be used to pay for the bond and will not be returned.
When someone does fail to go back to court (because they just didn’t want to), a judge will issue what is called a “bench warrant” for the arrest of the defendant. The bail that was originally paid will be forfeited and a recovery agent will be contacted to locate the person who ‘skipped bail.’
Many don’t realize that if their car breaks down, or their child became ill, and they miss or can’t make a court date, it can be easily taken care of by the bail agent with just a simple phone call.
It’s important to remember that the bail premium is never refundable in any condition, as the premium is earned by the bail company upon the release of the defendant. Even if the case is dismissed or the charges are dropped, the bail premium paid to the agency is always non-refundable.
In summary, promises are easily made in the moment of crisis and pressure. It’s great to help someone in times of need, but is it the wise person who makes sure they know exactly what they are getting into, prior to making a hard line commitment. Make sure to read the terms and conditions of any contract you sign. It’s just smart business.