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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT BAIL BONDS, BAIL BONDSMEN, AND THE BAIL

BONDING PROCESS IN THE STATE OF ALABAMA


HOW DO BAIL BONDS WORK?
Posting of a bail bond. This process involves a contractual undertaking guaranteed by a bail
agent and the individual posting bail. The bail agent guarantees to the court that the defendant
will appear in court each and every time the judge requires them to. For this service, the
defendant is charged a percentage of the bail amount. Before being released the defendant or
a relative or friend of the defendant, typically contacts a bail bondsman to arrange for the
posting of bail. Prior to the posting of a bail bond, the defendant or a co-signer must guarantee
that they will pay the full amount of bail if the defendant does not appear in court. Typically, a
family member or a close friend of the defendant will post bail and cosign. Collateral is not
always required for a person to be bailed from jail. Often a person can be bailed from jail on the
signature of a friend or family member. Cosigners typically need to be working and either own
or rent a home in the same area for some time. After an agreement is reached, the bail agent
posts a bond for the amount of the bail, to guarantee the defendants return to court. If the
defendant "skips", the cosigner is immediately responsible for the full amount of the bail. If the
defendant is located and arrested by the bail agent the cosigner is responsible for all expenses
the bail enforcement agent incurs while looking for the defendant.

WHAT IS A BAIL BOND?
The term Bail is used in several distinct senses: (1) It may mean the security cash or bond
given for the appearance of the prisoner. (2) It may mean the bondsman (i.e., the person who
acts as surety for the defendants appearance, and into whose custody the defendant is
released). (3) As a verb, it may refer to the release of the defendant (he was bailed out). The
first meaning is the most common and should be employed for clarity. Admission to bail is the
order of a competent court that the defendant be discharged from actual custody upon bail.
The discharge on bail is accomplished by the taking of bail (i.e., the acceptance by the court or
magistrate of security either an undertaking or deposit for the appearance of the defendant
before a court for some part of the criminal proceeding). Bail is evidenced by a bond or
recognizance, which ordinarily becomes a record of the court. The bond is in the nature of a
contract between the state on one side and the defendant and his sureties on the other. The
agreement basically is that the state will release the defendant from custody the sureties will
undertake that the defendant will appear at a specified time and place to answer the charge
made against him. If the defendant fails to appear, the sureties become the absolute debtor of
the state for the amount of the bond.

WHY DO I NEED A BAIL BOND?
The purpose of bail is to assure the attendance of the defendant, when his or her presence is
required in court, whether before or after conviction. Bail is not a means of punishing a
defendant.

DO I GET MY MONEY BACK WHEN THE DEFENDANT GOES TO COURT?
When the bail bond has served its purpose, the surety will be exonerated (i.e., released from
the obligation). Exoneration normally occurs when the proceeding is terminated in some way or
on the return of the defendant to custody. After conviction, the defendant appears for
sentence. If sentenced to imprisonment the defendant is committed to the custody of the
sheriff, and the liability of the surety terminates. You will not receive any money back that you
have paid a bail bondsman.

DO YOU ALWAYS NEED A BAIL BONDSMAN?
The defendant, or any other person, may deposit the sum mentioned in the bail order or bail
schedule. Cash is accepted, and it is the practice for each court to adopt a written policy
permitting acceptance of checks or money orders, upon conditions that tend to assure their
validity, in payment of bail deposits. Some courts have a maximum amount over which a
personal check will not be accepted. Depending upon the jurisdiction, government bonds may
be accepted.

WHAT IS UNDERTAKING?
An undertaking is a permissible type of bail security. The taking of bail consists of a competent
court accepting an undertaking of sufficient security for the appearance of the defendant,
according to the terms, or the surety will pay a specified sum to the state. Corporate sureties
are commonly used, and the court will accept an admitted surety insurers bail bond if executed
by the insurers licensed bail agent and issued in the insurers name by an authorized person.

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE PERSON I POST BAIL FOR SKIPS?
The surety or depositor may arrest the defendant, or authorize a bail enforcement agent or
private investigator to do so for the purpose of surrendering him into custody to ensure his
future appearance. This extraordinary power of the bail bondsman is of ancient origin. When
bail is given, the principal is regarded as delivered to the custody of his sureties. The following
may be authorized to arrest a bail fugitive: A certified law enforcement officer. A person
licensed by the State to do so (i.e., holding a bail license in another state and authorized in
writing by the bail or depositor to make the arrest). A person contracted and authorized in
writing by the bail or depositor to do so, Bail Recovery Agent, A private Investigator. Persons
doing the foregoing have been called bounty hunters, yet the term does not fit the facts of
appear world, they are acting under contract.

IF THE DEFENDANT DOESN'T APPEAR IN COURT AND THE COURT ORDERS FORFEITURE, CAN
THE DEFENDANT SCHEDULE TO REAPPEAR?
A court will sometimes order bail forfeited on the defendants nonappearance, then vacate the
forfeiture to reinstate the bail when the defendant appears and offers an explanation for the
absence. Some instances of this would be the nonappearance because of death, illness, or
insanity, or detention by civil or military authorities, and if the absence was not with the
connivance of the bail (acquiescence of the bonding company to the absence). An example of
illness would be where the defendant is confined to bed by reason of a doctors order. If a
defendant flees and the prosecuting agency does not seek extradition the bail may be
exonerated.

IF THE DEFENDANT SKIPS, WHAT MUST THE BOUNTY HUNTER SHOW TO THE COURT?
That he possesses the authority to arrest by virtue of satisfying any licensure requirements a
state may impose upon such a person. Additionally, he or she must have in their possession
proper documentation of authority to apprehend issued by the bail or depositor, which shall
include the name of the individual authorized to apprehend the bail fugitive, the address of the
principal office, the name and business address of the bail agency, or other party contracting
with the individual authorized to apprehend a bail fugitive. In a historical sense they are a
bounty hunter as they generally are contracted to do this and are remunerated for their
services by the bail agency or other contracting party. The bounty hunters of old are not the
bail enforcement agents of today. Some jurisdictions require significant training and licensure
of persons engaged in the recovery of bail absconders.

WHAT IF THE CHARGES ARE DISMISSED?
Statutes provide for exoneration of the surety in the event of dismissal. However, there is
usually a time period within which the prosecuting agency may seek to re-arrest and charge
with a public offense arising out of the same act or omission upon which the action or
proceeding was based. You will not receive any money back from the bail bond company.

CAN BAIL BE INCREASED?
After a defendant has been released, the court in which the charge is pending may require him
to give additional bail in an amount specified or to meet an additional condition upon a finding
made in open court that the defendant has failed to appear; or that additional facts have been
presented that were not shown at the time of the original release order, and the court may
order him to commitment unless he or she gives such bail or meets such other conditions.

WHAT ARE OTHER CONSEQUENCES IF THE DEFENDANT FAILS TO APPEAR?
The court may issue a bench warrant for his apprehension and arrest for the failure to appear
upon the underlying charge, which would thus be a separate triable offense, separate and
distinct from the original charge. The appropriate agency will enter each bench warrant issued
on a private surety bonded felony case into the national warrant system (National Crime
Information Center (NCIC).

WHAT IS A BAIL BOND INDEMNITOR?
Bail bond indemnitor is the co-signer for the bail bond. The indemnitor is responsible for
seeing that all premiums are paid for a defendants bail bond. Bail bonds are normally good for
one year. If the case continues for longer than a year, additional premiums will be due and
collected for each year the case goes on. Bail bond premiums are not refundable, as they are
used for the bail agents expenses, etc. The indemnitor is also responsible for additional
expenses incurred by the bail agent in the transaction of a bail bond, such as long distance calls,
travel, etc. An indemnitor is no longer liable for the defendants bond when the defendant has
completes all of his/her court appearances, and when all premiums have been paid. It is best to
contact the bail bond company when the bail bond is exonerated by the court, for the
expedient return of any collateral pledged and to confirm that the bond is exonerated. In the
event of forfeiture, the indemnitor is liable until the full amount of the bail has been paid, plus
any expenses incurred, or until the court exonerates the bond. The bond then becomes void.