Sometimes a defendant in a court case cannot raise enough money to cover the entire bail amount. In such instances, the defendant, a relative, or a close family friend can approach a bail bond agent as a co-signer to post the bail. In this case the defendant needs to pay about 10% of the bail amount and provide a collateral to the bail agent for the rest of the amount. The bail agent provides an avenue for the defendant to be out of custody until the day of the trail in court, thus allowing the defendant to continue day-to-day life until the criminal matter is resolved. The bail agent will provide for the many of the defendants needs to ensure that the defendant appears before the court as and when summoned. They should always be sure of the defendants whereabouts and should be able to locate the defendant in case of forfeit.
Bond agents provide the co-signer or the defendant with the receipts and copies of all signed documents and the information regarding the status of the bond and changes, if any, in assigned court dates. They should provide clear documentation regarding the status of any costs due, which were imposed by the court. The bail agent must be able to provide the timely return of collateral upon exoneration of the bond.
Bail agents charge about 10% of the total amount of the bond, plus the actual, necessary and reasonable expenses incurred in connection to the transaction. The amount of the bail bond has to be determined by the court. The co-signer is responsible in the case of an absconding defendant. In such cases, the bail agent will charge for all the expenses incurred while searching for the defendant from the co-signer. The co-signer must be employed and must be living in the same area for some time, in the event a collateral is not provided.
To become a bail bond agent, the applicant must be 18 years of age and either a citizen of the United States or resident alien. The applicant must have no criminal record in any jurisdiction for the past ten years. An application must come only through a licensed bail bond agency where the applicant is employed, or be licensed as a bail bond agency. The applicant must be able to bear the requisite fee.