The job of a bail bonds person seems pretty straightforward. You get arrested for allegedly committing a crime and you end up with a bail set that you cannot afford to pay out of pocket. So, you do what most people in your situation do. You, or someone you know, contacts a bail bonds company to come to your rescue. Yet, there are a lot of intricate details behind the scenes that a person in the bail bonding industry has to figure out to determine if bonding this person out is worth the risk.

The formula

Most people looking to secure a bail bonds company expect to provide ten percent of the set bail amount for the fee. However, depending on the type and the amount of the bond, that fee can vary. The fee rate that bail bonds companies use is set by the state. Depending on what state you’re in, your fee rate may not even be 10 percent. In some states, like Pennsylvania, the rate is seven percent. The catch is that that minimum rate of seven or 10 percent may only apply to the first $1,000. Anything over that, up to another specified amount, may have a higher fee rate, and so on. The bail bonds person will calculate all of that for you and give you the total, but it is important to know that it isn’t just a ten percent down rule across the board.

Unsplash / Sharon McCutcheon

Now let’s talk about collateral. A bails bonds person is taking a pretty big risk by paying the bail to get you out of jail. If you skip town, they are still responsible for paying the full amount of your bail. Collateral is a must for them to protect themselves. It is also a way that they can feel a little more confident that you will attend your scheduled court date. You can use cash, a vehicle title, the deed to a home, etc. Some bail bonds companies will even require that you check in on a regular basis to make sure you haven’t run out and that you will be at your court date. If you do make a run for it and miss your check in, they will be made aware of it sooner rather than later. From there, they can secure the necessary steps of hiring a private investigator or someone to track you down and bring you back in time for court.

Attendance that pays

When a bond is set, the entire amount must be paid for you to be released from jail. If you show up to the assigned court date for the case, the entire amount is returned. That fee amount that you pay to bail bonds companies is nonrefundable. That means that even when you attend your court date, the bails bonds person gets back the bail they put up for you. You do not get back the money you gave to them. That is how they make their money.

For example, if you have been arrested and have been given a $10,000 bond. If the fee rate in that state is 10 percent, you would need to pay the bail bonds person $1,000 up front to get out of jail. They still pay $10,000 to get you out. When you attend your court date, the bail bonds person gets their $10,000 back. In addition, they also get to keep the $1,000 that was given to them to get you out on the bond regardless of what happens with your case.

Now consider individuals that have larger bond amounts. The larger the bond, the more the bail bonds person gets. That is as long as the risk pays off and the person shows up to court. Also, a lot of bail bonds companies are 24-hours. It’s a legal hustle that can be very lucrative. As with most bail bonds people, if you call them, they’ll come.