Frequently Asked Questions

What is an arrest?

According to Black’s Law Dictionary the Absolute definition of “arrest” is: The apprehending or detaining of a person in order to be forthcoming to answer an alleged or suspected crime.

What is a Bail Bond?

When a person is arrested, a bail in a fixed amount of money is set to secure his/her release from actual physical custody and to offer some assurance to the court that they will appear for all future court scheduling. The court assumes there will be an appearance to prevent the bail money from being forfeited. If that person does not appear as ordered, the judge will forfeit the bail money posted in the defendant’s name.

Cash Bail Bond

To be released on cash bail, an individual must post with the court the total amount of the bail, in cash, to secure his or her return to court on an appointed date, and thereafter until the case is concluded

Surety Bond

An alternative to cash bail is the posting of a surety bond. This process involves entering into a contractual undertaking guaranteed by an admitted insurance company having adequate assets to satisfy the face value of the bond.

The bail bondman’s guarantees to the court that he will pay the bond forfeiture if a defendant fails to appear for their scheduled court appearances. The Bail Bondsman’s guarantee is made through a surety insurance company. For this service the defendant is charged a premium. To be released pursuant to the posting of a surety bond the arrestee, individual, relative, or friend contacts a bail bondsman, ( Who is licensed by the State) to post surety bonds. Prior to the posting of a surety bond the bondsman undertakes a detailed interview of the proposed guarantor of the surety bond as well as of the arrestee and relatives of the arrestee.

By involving the family and friends, as well as through the acceptance of collateral, the bondsman can be reasonably assured that an individual released on a surety bond will appear at his or her appointed court date until the case is adjudicated.

Following the conclusion of this procedure and if an agreement is reached, the bail agent posts a bond for the amount of the bail to guarantee the arrestee’s appearance in court.

What is a Surety Bond and the Role of a Bail Bondsman?

If a defendant does not have the actual cash amount of the bail set by the judge, they may contract the services of a bail bondsman. The bail bondsman is paid a percentage of the bail amount (usually between 10% and 15%) with sufficient collateral for the remaining monies. He then posts a surety bond with the court ensuring the dollar amount of the set bail will be paid should the bail be forfeited.

What if the Defendant Fails to Appear?

The Surety (bail bondsman) who posts the bond with the court has the right to apprehend (arrest) the defendant and produces him/her to the applicable court from which he/she has fled. If done within a timeframe set by the court the Surety will be able to recover his losses. The Surety usually delegates this arrest authority to another, such as a Bail Enforcement Agent , or Bail Bondsman Runner (bounty hunter).

Where Do Bondsman Get Their Authority to Arrest?

Bondsmen, or sureties, have the authority to arrest their Principal (the person bailed) from a Supreme Court ruling cited in Taylor vs. Taintor, 16 Wall, 366 which states, in part:

"When bail is given, the principal is regarded as delivered to the custody of his sureties. Their dominion is a continuation of the original imprisonment. Whenever they choose to do so, they may seize him and deliver him up in their discharge, and if that cannot be done at once, they may imprison him until it can be done. They may exercise their rights in person or by agent. They may pursue him into another state; may arrest him on the Sabbath; and, {f necessary may break and enter his house that purpose. The seizure is not made by virtue of new process. None is needed It is likened to the re-arrest by the Sheriff of an escaping prisoner." Also see: Masterson v. Hathaway, 296 111.42, 68 N.E. 1053 and Commonwealth v. Brickett, 8 Pick. (Mass.) 138; Pickelsimer v. Glazener, supra, Cf. Ex Parte, Chance, (D)).C. Tex.; 2 Fed. Supp. 393 and cases collected in 73 ~ 1370; Cartee v. Staet, 162 Miss. 272, 139 So. 620; United States v. Lee, (D.C. Ohio) 17 Fed.).

Bail Agents derive their authority to arrest from the Surety who, in turn, is supported by Nicolls vs. Ingersoll, 7 Johns, 154 which reads, in part:

"I see nothing, on general principles, against allowing this power to be exercised by an agent or deputy, and no case is found where this right has been denied...."

Are Bondsman Licensed?

Some states require bounty hunters to have a ‘Runners License’ and/or to complete designated hours of classroom style training whereas some states do not have any regulation regarding the bail enforcement industry. This is rapidly changing with a national trend towards states’ legislation to refine and define who bounty hunters are and what they can/cannot do. This grass roots movement requires all bail enforcement agents to successfully complete a certification and licensing procedure before being allowed to apprehend a fugitive bail jumper.


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