In Commercial Bail Bonds, Legal Terms

The commercial bail bond has been an established method of release since the United States was founded. Commercial bail, though a controversial and often over glorified industry, was originally established as a means to provide affordable release of a defendant while providing financial relief to the public for housing and/or returning a defendant to custody.

The bond represents a promise to the courts that the physical body of the defendant will appear to every court date, the location/whereabouts of the defendant for extradition purposes (when applicable), or the full face value of the bond will be paid in full to the courts. This obligation and promise to the courts maintain validity until the court case is concluded or the bond is satisfied by discharge.

If a defendant fails to appear to a court date, and the bond is forfeited, the bondsman will be given a demand to either pay the full value of the bond to the courts, or return the defendant to custody. Upon this failure to appear (FTA), the bondsman will contract a bail enforcement agent (also known as bounty hunter), will begin investigative steps to discover the location of the defendant and/or secure the apprehension (when applicable) of the defendant. Once the defendant is apprehended (when applicable), the defendant will be surrendered to the County/State of which the bond was posted (when applicable).

If the defendant cannot be legally apprehended, or an issue of extradition is prevalent, a motion to have the bail bond reinstated/revoked and discharged will be made with the court. When a defendant is apprehended, a motion to have the bail bonds reinstated/revoked and discharged will be made with the court. In extenuating circumstances such as; death, mental incompetency and/or custody status, a motion can be filed with the court to vacate and discharge the bail bond.  The bondsmen then hold the co-signer, defendant and/or any other Indemnitor that participated in the procurement of the bond responsible for any and all fees incurred for any and all actions as a result of risk or loss to the bail company.

If the bondsman has established and can prove that the defendant under their charge is going to fail to appear, or has been violating their terms of release, the bondsman will contract with a bail enforcement entity to have the defendant returned to the judge whom issued and set the original bail for the purposes of having bail revoked. It is in this circumstance that the bondsman and bail enforcement entity will have to prove the validity of their claim and reason to revoke the bond and risk to public safety; possibly in a hearing.

In a hearing a judge will determine the validity of the information provided, if the bail will be revoked, if new conditions or the same or higher bail set. If the information to support revocation of the bail is found unsupported, the defendant will be rereleased on the original bond, under the responsibility of the original bondsman. This process again is at no cost to the State and has proven to maintain the highest level of success in securing a defendants reappearance and accountability to the courts.  (Tabarrok, 2004)


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Cited Sources


Tabarrok, E. H. (2004, April). Public Versus Private Law Enforcement: Evidence From Bail Jumping. The

Journal of Law & Economics.