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What is a Bail-Bond?

8thAmendment of the U.S. Constitution: The Right Against Cruel and Unusual Punishment. (Ratified on December 15th, 1791)

“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

In U.S. Courts, defendants have a right to reasonable bail being set. At this stage, the person is simply accused of the crime and not yet convicted. English common law, which is the basis for most U.S. law, allows for a defendant in a criminal (and some civil) matters to remain free during the period of time that it takes to have a trial. This allows the defendant to work with an attorney to better prepare a defense against the charges that they face.

There are several different types of Appearance Bonds that may be required by the court:

Unsecured Bond / Written Promise to Appear:
In cases where the crime is considered relatively minor and the defendant does not have a significant criminal history, the court may allow the defendant to sign a “written promise to appear” in court. This type of unsecured appearance bond may have a dollar value assigned to it but payment will not be required for the defendant to be released from jail at that time. Payment will be demanded by the court if the defendant fails to appear on their designated court date/s. Unsecured bail bonds do not require the assistance of a bail bondsman.

Secured Appearance Bond:
A Secured Appearance Bond (most commonly referred to as a Secured Bond) means that the defendant, or someone on behalf of the defendant, has to put up something of value (cash or property) to assure the defendant’s appearance in court. This is the most common reason for needing a Bail Bondsman. Often times, the amount of bail set by the court may be more than the defendant has available. The bail bondsman steps in by posting the defendant’s bail bond to the court for a fee. Simply put, the bail bondsman promises to pay the court the entire amount of the bail if the defendant doesn’t come to court. In exchange, the bail bondsman charges the defendant (or their representative) a fee for this service.

Cash Bond:
A cash bond may only be posted with cash (U.S. currency) or by a Surety Bail Bondsman. ALL County Bail Bonds is a licensed Surety Bail Bonding Agency and can readily provide assistance in securing a cash bail bond. Cash Bonds may be used by the court if the court believes that there is a higher risk for the defendant to flee (and has no property that the court may secure their appearance with…see “Property Bonds” below) and wishes to secure the defendant’s release with cash, or a Surety Bondsman.

Property Bond:
Property Bonds are a method used by the courts to assure that a defendant will appear in court by posting Real Property (a home, land, building, etc) as proof that the defendant will appear in court. As a Surety Bondsman, ALL County Bail Bonds can assist in securing the release of defendants who are required to show the court a higher standard proof that they will appear by posting property. ALL County Bail Bonds may be able to assist Defendants and Indemnitors by posting a bond without necessarily having to post the property to the court. 

Juvenile Bonds:
Juvenile Bonds function the same way as other bail bonds but they apply to juvenile offenders (called “respondents” by the court system). A juvenile, for the purpose of arrest in the state of NC, is somebody under the age of 16. ALL County Bail Bonds is ready and able to assist families with juvenile bonds whenever needed.

Immigration Bonds:
Immigration Bonds are bonds granted by the U.S. Immigration Court to secure the appearance of defendants, respondents and associated family members, in U.S. Immigration Court. 

No Bond:
Defendants who are charged with some crimes may not be allowed a bail bond until their case is specifically reviewed by a judge. In Capital Offense cases (cases which could result in a death penalty), bail may be denied due to the high risk of flight and the greater risk to the community that the defendant may represent. Some cases that involve extradition (turning the defendant over to another jurisdiction, State or Country) may also be denied bail because the defendant is accused somewhere other than where they are incarcerated.
                   Domestic Violence Cases:  In the event that it has been determined that the defendant has committed a crime defined under the domestic violence statutes, NC Law requires that the defendant be held until the case is reviewed by a district court judge. Depending on the court's schedule, review by a district court judge could take several days, during which time the defendant will be held as a "No Bond".

Compliance Order:
Compliance orders apply to defendants who have been convicted of or plead guilty to a crime for which they have been accused. If the defendant fails to pay their fines and court costs within the time frame established by the court, they may be arrested for "failure to Comply". The "bond" in these cases is the amount of money required by the court for fines and costs. The defendant must pay this amount to secure their release from jail. BY NORTH CAROLINA LAW, BAIL BONDSMEN CANNOT SUBMIT A BAIL BOND FOR A COMPLIANCE ORDER.
                 Child Support: A defendant who has been incarcerated for failure to pay a court required child support amount is effectively charged with a civil failure to comply. As with other compliance orders, BY NORTH CAROLINA LAW, BAIL BONDSMEN CANNOT SUBMIT A BAIL BOND FOR A COMPLIANCE ORDER. The defendant will be required to pay the full amount of child support in arrears to be released from jail. However, in some cases arrangements for a purge payment may be made through the local child support enforcement office.

Contempt of Court:
Contempt of Court is a special violation specific to the court. BY NORTH CAROLINA LAW, BAIL BONDSMEN CANNOT SUBMIT A BAIL BOND FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT.


What is a Defendant?

A defendant is someone who has been charged with a crime (or crimes).

What is an Indemnitor?

An indemnitor is someone who, in essence, is helping a defendant secure their bail bond. A simple way to define indemnitor is as a cosigner. This may occur for several reasons and is very common in bail bonding. The most common indemnitors are spouses, family members (often parents or siblings) and close personal friends. The point of the indemnitor is to share the costs and risk relative to a defendant, often by putting up property or money to assure that the defendant will appear in and comply with the court. Indemnitors are not bondsman and do not have the same rights or responsibilities of bondsman, rather, they are helping the defendant to be able to afford their bail bond.

What happens if a Bondsman turns down a Bond?

“If at first you don’t succeed…try…try again.”

Bail Bondsman are not required to provide a bond to defendant just because the defendant wants to be bailed out of jail. Even if the defendant (or their indemnitor) can afford the bond, an individual bondsman may turn down the bond for any reason or no reason. The most common reason to decline a bond is because the defendant has a history of FTA’s (Failure to Appear in court) or has an excessively violent criminal history. For a bondsman, it may not be an acceptable risk so they may decline a bond. However, what one bondsman considers an unacceptable risk, another may be O.K. with. If the first bondsman declines a defendant, the defendant may try again with another bonding agency.  In some cases, bondsman may choose to “split” or “share” a bond. This is more common in cases with a high bail amount or when an individual bondsman is more comfortable with sharing the risk of an individual bond. Having an indemnitor may be helpful in many cases.

What is Bail?
Bail is defined as the amount of money (or in some cases property) that a person must post to the court to assure that they will appear in court and comply with any additional orders of the court. The Bond is the actual and specific promise of providing the money or property. Many people faced with a criminal charge may not have the amount of money or property that is required by the court. That’s where a bail bondsman may be a valuable resource.

Realize that once a defendant is sentenced (and remanded for custody to serve a sentence as punishment for a crime to which they have been found or plead guilty), they will not be allowed bail. Bail is a pre-trial condition, not a way to avoid the punishment phase of the criminal justice process.

What is a Bail Bondsman?

In North Carolina, a Bail Bondsman is a person who provides the service of posting bail for a defendant. There are three types of bondsman:

The Surety Bondsman:
Surety Bondsmen are licensed bail bonding professionals who provide bail-bonding services to defendants on behalf of a licensed insurance company. They are usually independently owned and operated franchises of their underwriting companies. By definition, all bail bonding professionals in NC are insurance agents and function much the same way as other insurance professionals. They assess risk, provide the service and if necessary, pay the claim. The difference is they are analyzing the risk and circumstances of an individual person as opposed to a car or home. Because they have the backing of (and are responsible to) large insurance underwriters, they often have the advantage of writing larger bonds and/or more of them.

The “Professional Bondsman” & “Bail Bond Runners”:
“Professional Bondsman” is a differentiation of status, not professionalism. The “Professional Bondsman” is essentially the exact same thing as a Surety Bondsman save one important difference: a “Professional Bondsman” puts up his/her own money to insure a bond. They maintain an account for this with the NC Department of Insurance. A licensed Bail Bond Runner works for a “Professional Bondsman” by power of attorney and has all the same rights and responsibilities as their “Professional Bondsman”. “Professional Bondsmen” and their “Runners” are limited in the amount of total bond/s that they may write.

The accomodation bondsman: Usually a friend or family member who has posted the necessary amount of bond (money or property) to the court on behalf of a defendant. As such, the accomodation bondsman has the same rights and responsibilities as a professional bail bonding company does in regard to the defendant. The important difference is that an accommodation bondsman is providing the bond as a personal favor to the defendant and may not be compensated (paid) for doing so. An accommodation bondsman who accepts payment (of any kind…goods or services) for this favor could be in serious trouble with the State. In North Carolina, it is illegal for any person to act as a licensed bondsman unless they are actually licensed and in compliance with all applicable state laws.


How Do I get a Bail Bond?

The amount of the bond is set by the court (most often a judge or a magistrate). The bail bondsman has absolutely no say whatsoever in the amount. A bond hearing may be scheduled in the event that a defendant wishes to address the issue to a judge. An attorney should be consulted regarding this process.

The process of having a bail bondsman post a bond is relatively simple. The defendant (or someone on their behalf such as a friend or family member), simply contacts a bondsman to discuss the situation. Based on the conversation and the information obtained, the bondsman will make a decision to “write the bond” or not. From there, it is a matter of completing necessary paperwork and submitting it to the court (often, a magistrate’s court). Once the court has accepted the bondsman paperwork, the defendant will be released from jail and free on bond.

What will the Bondsman need to know?

Different bail bondsman and bail bond companies will have different requirements but most will need many of the same things. Valid, verifiable ID is always important. The bondsman will certainly need to know where the defendant is located, what the defendant is charged with and the total amount of the bond(s). Other information that the bondsman will need may include: home and work addresses, family information, information on indemnitors (cosigners)
, vehicle information, any travel plans (if allowed by the court), relevant medical information, the defendant’s attorney's information if any, etc. 

Once free on bond, when does the bond end?

The bond ends when the court case against the defendant is completely resolved or adjudicated. Whether the verdict is guilty, not guilty, dismissed, etc. Any property or money held by the bondsman as collateral assuring that they defendant would appear in court is immediately returned to the owner. This DOES NOT INCLUDE THE PREMIUM (fee paid for the service of providing the bond). Collateral is always returned, The Premium is not.

How much will a bail bond cost?

The amount of the bail bond is set by a judicial official (usually a judge or magistrate). While different jurisdictions have different laws governing the amount that a licensed Bail Bondsman may charge, in North Carolina, current law allows a licensed bail bondsman to charge a Premium of no more than 15% of the total bail bond amount as a fee for the service of providing the bond. (example: 15% of a $2000 bail bond is $300) You may pay less than 15% in Premium depending on the circumstances in your particular case. We can accept cash, credit & debit cards, money orders and various other types of payments for Premium. In some cases we may be able to offer a payment plan on the Premium. Ask your ALL County Bail Bondsman if your case qualifies for a payment plan.

There are multiple factors that affect the overall premium charged.
Some examples are: history of FTA's (failure to appear in court), number of bond forfeitures, address & income stability, prior criminal history, nature of current charges, outcome of previous probation or other court requirements, etc.

Two factors that can positively affect the amount of premium charged are: the number and relative strength of Indemnitors (or cosigners) and collateral (see explanations below).

may require that money or property be held in escrow by the bonding company, and some bondsman may require an indemnitor (or cosigner).

One of the major advantages that a bail bondsman can provide is that a bondsman can accept forms of guarantee and payment that court systems will not. A court will often accept only cash or real property (by way of a lien on the real estate property) and has very specific requirements of the location, type and status of the property. The court will not accept personal property (such as a car) even if it is fully paid for and regardless of the value of the personal property.

For example: A defendant charged with a crime receives a $5,000 bond. The defendant does not have $5,000 in cash and does not own any real estate, but does own a car which happens to be worth $5,000. The bondsman can accept the car as collateral against the bond, returning it to the owner as soon as the court case against the defendant is adjudicated. In this way, people who could not have otherwise bonded out of jail can go free to work on their case, keep their job, spend time with their family, etc. In some cases, it may even be possible for the defendant to keep their vehicle (for work and errands) while using it as collateral against their bond. NOTE: Using collateral to secure or reduce the cost of a bond does not take the place of the premium payment that would be owed to the bondsman. In this example a premium of approximately $500 would be owed to the bondsman.

Ask a licensed bail bondsman at ALL County Bail Bonds what options are available.

Note concerning Property used as collateral: In NC, it is illegal for bondsmen to utilize property taken in escrow as collateral against a bond for their own use. Vehicles, real estate and other property can not be used for personal or business use by the bondsman.

What happens if the defendant misses court OR fails to comply with an order of the court?

In a Bail Bond undertaking, the defendant promises both the court and their bail bondsman that they will appear in court as scheduled and that they will follow any instructions of the court. If the defendant fails to appear or violates an order of the court, they forfeit their bail bond agreement with both their bondsman and the court. It now becomes the bail bondsman’s responsibility to guarantee that the defendant is returned to the custody of the court. This process is called a Surrender and is essentially the same as an arrest.

This next part is really important!!!!      
Read it carefully and pay attention!!!!

1. If the defendant cooperates with the bondsman, most often, arrangements can be made to keep the defendant out of jail until their case comes to court.

2. If the defendant fails to be cooperative, runs, hides or flees the jurisdiction, all bets are off. The bondsmen will make every effort to find the defendant within the bounds of the law. The bondsmen have a right to locate and seize (arrest) the defendant anywhere and at any time (see Taylor v. Taintor below). Furthermore, because the defendant failed to appear or violated a court order, an Order for Arrest will likely have been issued by the court for law enforcement to arrest the defendant. If the Police / Sheriff / Federal Agents find the defendant first, don’t bet on getting a new bail bond. If the bondsman locates the defendant first, they will surrender the defendant to the jurisdiction of the court from which the defendant was originally bonded (or from which the charges originated).


NOTE:
If you’re reading this and you are a defendant “on the run”, ALL County Bail Bonds HIGHLY recommends that you immediately get in contact with your Bail Bondsman. You may have to go back, go before the magistrate, get a new bond, etc. but we can promise you that you have more options available to you if you’re cooperative than if you keep running.


For information on U.S. Court interpretations of a Bail Bondsman’s right to seize a defendant who has failed to appear or violates an order of the court, please refer to:

Taylor v. Taintor 83 U.S. 366 (1872)
"When bail is given, the principal is regarded as delivered to the custody of his sureties. Their dominion is a continuance of the original imprisonment. Whenever they choose to do so, they may seize him and deliver him up in their discharge; and if that cannot be done at once, they may imprison him until it can be done. They may exercise their rights in person or by agent. They may pursue him into another State; may arrest him on the Sabbath; and if necessary, may break and enter his house for that purpose. The seizure is not made by virtue of new process. None is needed. It is likened to the re-arrest by the sheriff of an escaping prisoner. In 6 Modern it is said: "The bail have their principal on a string, and may pull the string whenever they please, and render him in their discharge." The rights of the bail in civil and criminal cases are the same. They may doubtless permit him to go beyond the limits of the State within which he is to answer, but it is unwise and imprudent to do so; and if any evil ensue, they must bear the burden of the consequences, and cannot cast them upon the obligee."


The information provided is for general information purposes of persons visiting this site and should not be construed as a binding, definitive or legal opinion of the topics presented.

Copyright 2012:  This information was developed by Sean R. Woolrich, NC Licensed Bail Bondsman, for use ONLY at www.bailthejail.com.  Do not copy or use the content of this website for any purpose without specific permission from All County Bail Bonds and Sean R. Woolrich.  To contact us about using our content, email us at: bond@bailthejail.com

This information was developed utilizing the following sources:

The Constitution of the United States of America; NCGS Chapter 15A-26; NCGS Chapter 58-71; 11 NCAC 13 .0501 - .0518; Taylor v. Taintor and other legal definitions cited:   www.findlaw.com  www.blackslawdictionary.com

North Carolina Bail Agents Association
Bail Agent Pre-Licensing Course (NCBAA 2004); “Use of Force” Supplemental - Presented by Arnetta J. Herring, Senior Police Attorney, Durham (NC) Police Department (NCBAA Course)
PO Box 19663; Raleigh, NC 27619; 919-832-0867; www.ncbaa.com


North Carolina Department of Insurance
1204 Mail Service Center; Raleigh, NC 27699-1204; 919-807-6800; www.ncdoi.com
 
Office phone:  704-456-2197
email: bond@bailthejail.com
Corporate Office:
4365 School House Commons, Suite 500-300
Harrisburg, NC 28075
COPYRIGHT 2012:  This information was developed by Sean R. Woolrich, NC Licensed Bail Bondsman, for use ONLY at www.bailthejail.com.  Do not copy or use the content or graphics of this website for any purpose without specific written permission from All County Bail Bonds and Sean R. Woolrich.  To contact us about using our content, email us at: bond@bailthejail.com