In reality, this is a two part question. A bond, also referred to as an appearance bond is in essence a contract between the State of Pennsylvania, the Bail Bond Agent, also referred to as a bondsman and the Principal, also referred to as the Defendant/Accused.
The appearance bond is a written contract wherein the Bail Agent pledges the financial assets of the company for the penal sum or total amount of the bond(s) that are executed on the Defendant’s behalf. The appearance bond is what guarantees that the Defendant will appear at all court appearances until such time that their case is properly disposed by the court.
It’s important to note that should the Defendant fail to appear in court, the Bail Agent has to either arrest and surrender the Defendant to the appropriate authority or MUST pay the total amount of the bond(s) for which the agent posted on the Defendant’s behalf.
Bail is also referred to as “Bail Premium” or “Bond Fee”. Simply put, this is how much it will cost for the Bail Agent to post the bond(s) for the Defendant. These fees are set and regulated by the State of Pennsytlvania and NOT the individual Bail Agent or the Agent’s company.
The fees are quite simple to calculate: Any bond amount from $1.00 up to $1,000.00 is a flat fee of $100. Any bond amount from $1,001.00 and above, regardless of the total amount, is 10% of the total bond amount. The only exception to this is if the agents post a Federal Bond. Bond fees for all Federal Bonds are 15% of the total bond amount.
It’s also important to note and is a common misconception of the fees we charge is that a separate bond MUST be written for each individual charge. Often times our clients are of the opinion that all of the charges can be combined and one bond can be written and this is not the case. At times, this may result in additional fees being charged as a result of separate and individual bonds having to be written.
Every bail in Philadelphia can be posted by paying 10% of the bail amount. If family members are unable to pay the 10%, a bail bondsman can generally accept 5-7% of the total bail amount. This can be paid in cash, credit card, money order, cashier check, or bank to bank wire transfer.
NO!! The bond fee or premium charged by the agent is not refundable. These funds are how the agent makes their living and financially sustains their agency. There are only a very “few and rare” exceptions when a person “may” be entitled to a refund of the “bond fee or premium” that was paid to execute the bond(s).
Depending on the severity of the charges that are alleged against a particular Defendant, coupled with the amount of the bond that has been posted for the Defendant, the Bail Agent may require more of one Defendant than another. The Defendant should not take offense in any manner to more strict or stringent conditions being placed on them by the Bail Agent. The relationship between the Bail Agent and the Defendant and or client should remain professional at all times. Effective communication and contact either in person or by phone is paramount to maintaining an effective and productive working relationship between all parties.
The Bail Agent can and should be most helpful in obtaining court dates that the Defendant will be required to attend, as well as any bond conditions that are imposed. The Defendant should never hesitate to call or contact their bail bond company and address any questions or concerns they may have about their case.
It is important to understand from the very beginning that a bail bond agent IS NOT a lawyer and CANNOT provide legal advice or direction. Furthermore, we cannot recommend or refer a client to any particular lawyer or attorney. Please be advised that any and all legal questions and advice must be directed to and received from the lawyer or Public Defender’s office.
It’s always extremely beneficial for the Defendant and Co-Signer(s) to keep the Bail Agent informed on the status of their case at all times, especially after each and every court date. The Defendant should also expect to be given the same respect from the Bail Agent.
Again, all parties should bear in mind that the Bail Agent or their office is not the judge or jury and should not in any shape, form or fashion pre-judge the Defendant and should maintain a neutral position and should only fulfill their obligation to the court by ensuring that the Defendant appears in court as required.
It is also extremely important for the point to be made very clear that simply because a person is faced with the misfortune of being arrested for any reason, this DOES NOT by any means make them a bad person or criminal in nature. It simply means that they have made a mistake and we are always there to assist you during those stressful times and we will make every effort to provide our services to all parties as comfortably and as quickly as possible.
Collateral on a bond is simply what is accepted by a Bail Agent to guarantee that the Bail Agent is held harmless or in other words does not suffer a financial loss as a result of the Defendant’s bond(s) being forfeited. Collateral is obtained or received by the Bail Agent in several forms.
The most common and accepted form of collateral is an “Indemnity Agreement”, a “Promissory Note” or both. These two forms are basically a person or persons signature on designated forms (they are on our site for review) that is used to hold the Indemnitor, also referred to as the Co-Signer on the bond financially responsible for the undertaking of the bond(s) on the Defendant’s behalf.
Other accepted forms of collateral that are accepted by our company are: Mortgage Agreement(s), cash, money orders or credit cards. Depending on the level of risk of the bond(s) for the Defendant, our company may require that a mortgage agreement be executed to secure the Defendant’s release. Furthermore, cash collateral may be requested to be held until such time the Defendant’s bonds are discharged or terminated.
It’s important to understand that if cash collateral is accepted, the cash SHALL be deposited into an escrow account and kept totally and completely separate from the Bail Agents personal or operating funds. These collateral funds SHALL be returned in full to the depositor upon completion of the Defendant’s case(s). The only exception to the collateral being returned to the depositor is in the event the Defendant fails to appear and their bond(s) are forfeited. At this point, the collateral being held in trust can be converted and used to pay the forfeiture(s) to the respective court.
In addition, it should also be understood that if a client selects to use a credit card to post the collateral, the current credit card fee that is imposed by the financial institution for the monetary transaction, can and should be charged to the depositor in addition to the total amount of collateral accepted. The credit card fee is NOT refundable. However, if a client uses a credit card to pay the “bail premium” or “bond fee” on the bond(s), these credit card fees must be absorbed by the Bail Agent and cannot be passed along to the client.
A judge can and should forfeit or estreat the bond when the Defendant fails to appear in court. Once the bond is forfeited, as referenced above, this is an order of the respective court which directs the Bail Agent to either apprehend and surrender the Defendant to the jurisdiction of the court or for the Bail Agent to pay the penal (total) sum of the bond that have been posted on the Defendant’s behalf. It’s very important to note that strict timelines govern the length of time from the date the judge forfeited or estreated the bond until the day the agent must return the Defendant to custody or pay the forfeiture.
NO!! The Bail Agent MUST have a legitimate reason if they choose to arrest or apprehend the Defendant and return them to custody. The primary reason a Bail Agent has the right, as well as the responsibility to arrest the Defendant is if the Defendant willfully and with intent fails to appear in court and subjects the Bail Agent to being ordered by the court to pay the bond, due to the Defendant’s failure to appear.
Other reasons that will justify the Agent’s arrest of the Defendant are: if any false or misleading information is provided by the Defendant during the posting of their bond(s); if the Defendant leaves the jurisdiction of the court without permission or consent; if the Defendant moves from one residential address to another without notifying the Bail Agent PRIOR to the move; if the Defendant is re-arrested for any new criminal offense other than a minor traffic offense while the original bond is active and lastly, IF the Defendant during any course of time while the Defendant is on bond with the agent does anything or commits any act that reasonably and verifiably leads the Bail Agent to believe that the Defendant will cause a forfeiture of the bond, breach of the bond or violation of the original bond conditions.
To make this simple, this can be answered by saying that the Bail Agent is responsible for the Defendant as long as they have pending court dates. Once the case has been disposed of or discharged by the court by either being found not guilty or having the charges dropped by the State of Florida or the defendant has been sentenced by the court, the bond becomes void or canceled at that time. The Bail Agent IS NOT responsible for any sentence, programs, fines or costs that are imposed by the court as a result of the Defendant pleading out to the charges or having been found guilty of the charges.
YES !! Way Bail Bond, Inc. prides itself and our reputation for having the ability to write bonds for any person regardless of what they may be charged with; ranging from minor traffic related offenses to major felony charges, including capital offenses, as well as Appeal Bonds. We are also able to write bail on Federal Charges. Federal Bonds are a little different, but easily explained and obtained if needed. More importantly, we also post bail for clients regardless of the bond amounts. One of our favorite slogans is: “NO BOND IS TOO LARGE OR TOO SMALL, WE WRITE THEM ALL”.
The length of time that is required for the booking process to be completed varies. This length of time depends on how busy the respective jail is at the time the person is being booked.
One exception to this is if the person arrested has been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or any other alcohol related charge. In these instances, the person that has been arrested is required to be held until such time that their alcohol content drops below a certain level that is determined by the respective agency in which they are being held.
Please be advised that the Bail Agent does not and cannot control this holding period. In addition to how busy the booking officers are, it’s very important for the person being arrested to be extremely cooperative, polite and courteous during the booking process, even though the person being arrested and charged may not be happy about being arrested and may know with certainty that they are not guilty in any way of what they are being charged with.
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