Bail Bonds Fundamentals

When trying to understand  how bail bonds work, you have to take into consideration all of the separate entities that play their part. Below, you'll find a very thorough breakdown of how bail bonds work and an explanation of the entire process in layman's terms.

How Bail Bonds Work

Parties Involved in Bail Bonds

  • Inmate
  • Bail Bondsman
  • Co-Signer
  • Jail staff

Different Roles in The Bail Bonds Process

The inmate, otherwise known as the 'defendant,' is the person who has been arrested and detained. The bail bondsman represents a licensed bail bonds company and is authorized to write surety bonds for an inmate's release. A co-signer is a third-party who has a relationship to the defendant and guarantees their presence in court. The jail staff oversees an inmate's incarceration and receives the bonding paperwork to start the release process.

The Bonding Process

  1. Defendant is arrested and booked into jail.
  2. A judge decides the bail amount during the bail hearing or a standard bond schedule is used by the jail.
  3. The inmate is now eligible to be bailed out by a cash bond or surety bonding company.
  4. Co-signer pays the bondsman (see above definition) and signs the bond.
  5. The bondsman delivers the paperwork to the jail staff and the inmate is released.

Bail Bond Procedures After the Arrest

After a friend or loved one gets arrested, you will get a collect phone call from the jail from the person ("inmate"), in which they will tell you which jail they are in and their bail amount. After they have been fully booked into the jail, they will either be eligible for bail or bail may be denied altogether. This usually happens if the person has an instance of not showing up for a court date in the past. This is also known as a Failure to Appear. After bail has been set, you (the "co-signer") will need to find a bail bondsman to arrange for a bond to be written on the inmate's behalf. You'll need to provide proof of identity, proof of residency, and proof of income in order to qualify on a bail bond. See more about qualifications on our bail bonds homepage. After that, all you have to do is give the bondsman the fee for the bond, plus any additional jail fees that are passed through to you, and sign the paperwork. The bondsman will then hand deliver the bail bond to the jail staff and they will begin the release process for the inmate.

More About Bail Bondsmen

It's probably a good idea to call a couple different bondsmen in the area of the jail that the defendant is currently being incarcerated in. Some bail bonds companies will charge a higher percentage based on lack of qualifications and some will be rude over the phone. Don't spend a ton of time looking for the perfect bondsman, but do a little research before settling on a bail bonds company. It should only take you about 10 minutes or so to do a quick search of all of the bonding companies in the area and all you have to do is call two or three of them.

There you have it. Hopefully this helps you understand a little bit more of how bail bonds work and you can now get your friend or loved one out of jail!