You Have Questions. We have Answers.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT BAIL BONDS, BAIL BONDSMEN, AND THE BAIL BONDING PROCESS IN THE STATE OF ALABAMA
Posting of a bail bond. This process involves a contractual undertaking guaranteed by a bail agent and the individual posting bail. The bail agent guarantees to the court that the defendant will appear in court each and every time the judge requires them to. For this service, the defendant is charged a percentage of the bail amount. Before being released the defendant or a relative or friend of the defendant, typically contacts a bail bondsman to arrange for the posting of bail. Prior to the posting of a bail bond, the defendant or a co-signer must guarantee that they will pay the full amount of bail if the defendant does not appear in court. Typically, a family member or a close friend of the defendant will post bail and cosign. Collateral is not always required for a person to be bailed from jail. Often a person can be bailed from jail on the signature of a friend or family member. Cosigners typically need to be working and either own or rent a home in the same area for some time. After an agreement is reached, the bail agent posts a bond for the amount of the bail, to guarantee the defendant’s return to court. If the defendant "skips", the cosigner is immediately responsible for the full amount of the bail. If the defendant is located and arrested by the bail agent the cosigner is responsible for all expenses the bail enforcement agent incurs while looking for the defendant.
The term Bail is used in several distinct senses: (1) It may mean the security – cash or bond – given for the appearance of the prisoner. (2) It may mean the bondsman (i.e., the person who acts as surety for the defendant’s appearance, and into whose custody the defendant is released). (3) As a verb, it may refer to the release of the defendant (he was bailed out). The first meaning is the most common and should be employed for clarity. Admission to bail is the order of a competent court that the defendant be discharged from actual custody upon bail. The discharge on bail is accomplished by the taking of bail (i.e., the acceptance by the court or magistrate of security – either an undertaking or deposit – for the appearance of the defendant before a court for some part of the criminal proceeding). Bail is evidenced by a bond or recognizance, which ordinarily becomes a record of the court. The bond is in the nature of a contract between the state on one side and the defendant and his sureties on the other. The agreement basically is that the state will release the defendant from custody the sureties will undertake that the defendant will appear at a specified time and place to answer the charge made against him. If the defendant fails to appear, the sureties become the absolute debtor of the state for the amount of the bond.
The purpose of bail is to assure the attendance of the defendant, when his or her presence is required in court, whether before or after conviction. Bail is not a means of punishing a defendant.
When the bail bond has served its purpose, the surety will be exonerated (i.e., released from the obligation). Exoneration normally occurs when the proceeding is terminated in some way or on the return of the defendant to custody. After conviction, the defendant appears for sentence. If sentenced to imprisonment the defendant is committed to the custody of the sheriff, and the liability of the surety terminates. You will not receive any money back that you have paid a bail bondsman.
The defendant, or any other person, may deposit the sum mentioned in the bail order or bail schedule. Cash is accepted, and it is the practice for each court to adopt a written policy permitting acceptance of checks or money orders, upon conditions that tend to assure their validity, in payment of bail deposits. Some courts have a maximum amount over which a personal check will not be accepted. Depending upon the jurisdiction, government bonds may be accepted.
An undertaking is a permissible type of bail security. The taking of bail consists of a competent court accepting an undertaking of sufficient security for the appearance of the defendant, according to the terms, or the surety will pay a specified sum to the state. Corporate sureties are commonly used, and the court will accept an admitted surety insurer’s bail bond if executed by the insurer’s licensed bail agent and issued in the insurer’s name by an authorized person.
The surety or depositor may arrest the defendant, or authorize a bail enforcement agent or private investigator to do so for the purpose of surrendering him into custody to ensure his future appearance. This extraordinary power of the bail bondsman is of ancient origin. When bail is given, the principal is regarded as delivered to the custody of his sureties. The following may be authorized to arrest a bail fugitive: A certified law enforcement officer. A person licensed by the State to do so (i.e., holding a bail license in another state and authorized in writing by the bail or depositor to make the arrest). A person contracted and authorized in writing by the bail or depositor to do so, Bail Recovery Agent, A private Investigator. Persons doing the foregoing have been called bounty hunters, yet the term does not fit the facts of appear world, they are acting under contract.
A court will sometimes order bail forfeited on the defendant’s nonappearance, then vacate the forfeiture to reinstate the bail when the defendant appears and offers an explanation for the absence. Some instances of this would be the nonappearance because of death, illness, or insanity, or detention by civil or military authorities, and if the absence was not with the connivance of the bail (acquiescence of the bonding company to the absence). An example of illness would be where the defendant is confined to bed by reason of a doctor’s order. If a defendant flees and the prosecuting agency does not seek extradition the bail may be exonerated.
That he possesses the authority to arrest by virtue of satisfying any licensure requirements a state may impose upon such a person. Additionally, he or she must have in their possession proper documentation of authority to apprehend issued by the bail or depositor, which shall include the name of the individual authorized to apprehend the bail fugitive, the address of the principal office, the name and business address of the bail agency, or other party contracting with the individual authorized to apprehend a bail fugitive. In a historical sense they are a bounty hunter as they generally are contracted to do this and are remunerated for their services by the bail agency or other contracting party. The bounty hunters of old are not the bail enforcement agents of today. Some jurisdictions require significant training and licensure of persons engaged in the recovery of bail absconders.
Statutes provide for exoneration of the surety in the event of dismissal. However, there is usually a time period within which the prosecuting agency may seek to re-arrest and charge with a public offense arising out of the same act or omission upon which the action or proceeding was based. You will not receive any money back from the bail bond company.
After a defendant has been released, the court in which the charge is pending may require him to give additional bail in an amount specified or to meet an additional condition upon a finding made in open court that the defendant has failed to appear; or that additional facts have been presented that were not shown at the time of the original release order, and the court may order him to commitment unless he or she gives such bail or meets such other conditions.
The court may issue a bench warrant for his apprehension and arrest for the failure to appear upon the underlying charge, which would thus be a separate triable offense, separate and distinct from the original charge. The appropriate agency will enter each bench warrant issued on a private surety – bonded felony case into the national warrant system (National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
Bail bond indemnitor is the co-signer for the bail bond. The indemnitor is responsible for seeing that all premiums are paid for a defendant’s bail bond. Bail bonds are normally good for one year. If the case continues for longer than a year, additional premiums will be due and collected for each year the case goes on. Bail bond premiums are not refundable, as they are used for the bail agent’s expenses, etc. The indemnitor is also responsible for additional expenses incurred by the bail agent in the transaction of a bail bond, such as long distance calls, travel, etc. An indemnitor is no longer liable for the defendant’s bond when the defendant has completes all of his/her court appearances, and when all premiums have been paid. It is best to contact the bail bond company when the bail bond is exonerated by the court, for the expedient 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 has been paid, plus any expenses incurred, or until the court exonerates the bond. The bond then becomes void.