How Bail Bonds Work

The word bail is mentioned in the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Although the right to bail is not a guaranteed right, it’s useful to know what the term signifies.

In case you ever find yourself in a situation where you need a bail bond in order to get out of jail, it is important to understand how the process works. A bail bondsman provides the court with a financial guaranty that when released you promise to return and stand before any judicial proceeding against you. Depending on the amount of bail set by the court, via a judge or magistrate, you may be required to provide an amount equal to 10 percent of the bail or the full bail.

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Below is a discussion of how the bail bonds process works, the types of bail bonds used, and the consequences you may face if you fail to honor the terms of bail. This information may prove valuable should you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to arrange for bail for yourself, a relative, or an acquaintance.

Arranging for Bail Bonds 

The process for arranging a bail bond begins with an arrest. Generally, a person arrested for a crime with no extensive prior criminal record is eligible for bail. The right or eligibility to bail is determined on a jurisdictional level, which varies from state to state and within states. Once an individual has been arrested, booked — which involves getting fingerprinted, photographed, and having a record of the arrestee’s information created by law enforcement — a determination is made whether the offense warrants bail eligibility. The arrested individual will be taken before a hearing officer, magistrate, or bail judge for a status hearing and possible release under bail.

The purpose of a bail hearing is to set an amount for bail as well as the conditions of release and future court dates. Once set, an individual or company known as a surety or guarantor puts up a bond in the amount of the bail. An amount equal to a percentage of the surety bond or the entire amount will be paid by the arrested individual — as arranged for by someone related or connected to the arrestee — and must be secured before release.

Bail Bonds Requirements Differ by Jurisdiction 

Bail bonds, which make up what is known as the pretrial release process, can be financial and nonfinancial. Of the financial bonds, including surety bonds, full cash bonds, and property bonds, surety bonds are what bail bondsmen issue. A study of felony defendants between 1990-2004 in the country’s 75 largest counties by the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 69 percent of those defendants released on bond were released through surety bonds.

Consequences of Failing to Honor a Bond 

The United States remains the only country that allows bounty hunting. A bounty hunter — glamorized by individuals like Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman on the A&E Network — is someone hired by a bail bondsman to retrieve a fugitive who “skips” bail. Bounty hunters, unlike bondsmen, are not always regulated and or licensed by a state, and have the power to use “reasonable” force to apprehend a person, including and up to lethal force. Skipping bail is also a crime, and can cause additional punishments to be levied onto a sentence if and when the fugitive is eventually caught.

Bail BondThis article was written by Robert Tritter, an aspiring lawyer who hopes to help you understand the legal process better. He writes this on behalf of OK Bail Bonds, your number one choice when looking for bail bonds in Texas. Check out their website at for more information!

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