How Bail Agents Make A Living

Even people who have never been involved with the justice system are familiar with the idea of posting bail. It’s money that you’re required to hand over to the legal system so that they feel confident that they can let you go free without having to worry that you won’t show up when it’s time to go in front of a judge. Anyone who posts bail and then fails to appear, at least without an extraordinarily good reason, forfeits the money and can be arrested. What’s not as well understood is how bail agents, or people who post bail bonds on behalf of others, make a living at doing so.

At first glance, it would seem as if posting bail for someone you don’t know is a terrible idea. A stranger, particularly one who may be a criminal already, probably doesn’t have nearly as much concern for whether your money is forfeited as you would yourself. It can seem obvious, then, that people in this field would see a lot of losses due to people running away rather than staying to face their charges. While they do charge a fee for their services, they can lose a lot more when a client disappears.

As part of the arrangements that define their position, bail agents generally have the right to track down anyone who doesn’t show up for a court date. In fact, many of them follow up with their clients and make sure ahead of time that they are aware of when court dates are. They may also check in periodically to see that someone hasn’t left town before they are appointed to appear. This monitoring helps to protect the money that the bondsman has put up, and also helps the legal system by making it less likely that someone who is considering making a run for it will actually try to do so.

What happens if someone decides to go ahead and try anyway? In that case, the bondsman is allowed to track him down and bring him back. In fact, they get quite a bit of leeway in how forceful they can be and what techniques are used. In some states, this is simply part of the law. In others, it’s part of the contract that the client signs. Either way, the bondsman has broad authority to make sure that his clients actually do appear, so that he can protect his money.