What is a Bail Bondsman?

The bail bondsman acts as an important resource for those who have been charged with a crime and had a bail amount set beyond what they or their family can cover. But don’t misunderstand the bondsman role, as while they may help post bond, those who choose not to appear in court will see the less helpful side of the bail bondsman’s business.


Bail Bonds Process

Before discussing what a bail bondsman is, it’s important to understand exactly how the bail process works. When someone’s arrested, the judge sets a bond. When paid, a person is released until their court appearance. If they cannot make bail, the defendant is held in custody until this date. If the defendant is able to post bail, but does not show, the court keeps the money and puts out an arrest warrant. With bail amounts set purposely high to ensure return, many individuals are unable to pay bonds on their own. In return for a fee or a percentage of the total amount of the bond upfront, a bail bondsman posts bail for the individual. If the individual does not show up on their court date, not only are they liable for the full amount to the bail bondsman, but they most likely will be tracked and apprehended by the bondsman or a bounty hunter.

Role of the Bail Bondsman

A bondsman can play several roles in their workplace depending on the type of business. Primarily, they act as an administrator and banker, setting up bail contracts, taking fees and working with the courts to get their clients released on bail. On the other hand, they may also work as a bounty hunter. While some bail bondsman hire bounty hunters, others work as their own, tracking down clients who have skipped bail and acting on varying amounts of state authority to apprehend and return clients to jail.

How to Become a Bondsman

Bail bondsmen are licensed and regulated by the state they work in, typically through a department of licensing or insurance. As such, the requirements may vary from state to state. Most states require some certified form of training in criminal and civil law along with field operations procedure training. They may also require agents to complete training on specific tools of the trade, including firearms, tasers, batons and oleo capsicum resin sprays. Training is often capped with a certification exam, including questions on both federal and state laws. While the field can provide a lucrative career option, it’s important to understand that bondsman take on a lot of risk, especially when locating and securing a bail jumper.

While you may often see the bail bonds process portrayed on televisions shows and movies, it’s important to understand that these portrayals are often exaggerated for entertainment value. In reality, bail bonds professionals are heavily regulated professionals performing an important service within the criminal justice field.

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