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The Truth About Surety Bail in the Criminal Justice System

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Except for those who are in the Surety Bail Bond business, very few understand the procedures and the safety to the community provided by this necessary part of the Criminal Justice System. So let’s take a look at why it works so well.

Saving taxpayer money, keeping the worst criminals off the streets, and providing for the victims of crime to get justice are just a few of the benefits of professional surety bail bond agents.

As in Missouri**, most state Constitutions guarantee the right to bail just like the U.S. Constitution. That is because for over 2000 years bail has guaranteed a defendant will appear in Court to face the charges against them. BAIL guarantees ACCOUNTABILITY.

A professional bail bond agent is licensed by the Department of Insurance in most states because we sell a surety bond. The Department or the Court determines whether that agent, or it’s Surety Insurance Company is “sufficient” to do business in the State. Administrative rules are determined by statute or by the Insurance Department.

The Process

Law enforcement observes or is informed a possible crime* has been committed. An officer investigates and if a crime was committed they attempt to determine who committed the crime. Once a defendant has been identified, a probable cause statement is provided to the County Prosecutor. If the Prosecutor decided the evidence is enough to continue forward, the case is forwarded to the Judge. After reviewing the file and determining there is enough evidence, the Judge then issues a warrant and a bond.

Once a Judge has set a bond, the defendant, family member, or other person contacts the Bail Bond agent to secure the release of the defendant from jail. The Bail Bond agent then begins the process of determining the risk should the defendant be released.  The agent contacts family members, friends, co-workers, employers, and past criminal history to determine if the defendant will attend court dates, is a danger to the community, or a danger to any individual if released.

NO other method of risk assessment is as thorough as the Bail Bond agent in determining this risk!

Once the agent is satisfied with the risk, a third party guarantor completes the bail bond contract and the defendant is released from jail.

The bail bond agent is then responsible for the defendant to attend all Court hearings. Should the defendant NOT appear in Court, the Bail Bond agent can then locate the defendant and return them to jail. Strict guidelines are provided by the State for the apprehension of the defendant.

As provided by the U.S. Supreme Court rulings, a Bail Bond agent my pursue the defendant anywhere they may go, enter their residence and take the absconded defendant into custody and deliver them to the appropriate Court of jurisdiction.

All of this is done at the expense of the Bail Bond agent so no cost is borne by the taxpayers.

Recent attempts at other means such as ROR, 10 percent to the Court, GPS ankle monitors, and Pre-Trial release programs are NOT as successful as bail at making the defendant ACCOUNTABLE to the Court.

A bail bond costs, typically, 10 percent of the face amount of the bond set by the Judge and is seldom paid by the defendant.

After paying the costs of reinsurance, expenses of being in business, commission to agents, taxes, and reserves for losses, most bail bond agents net about 3 percent. This means if the bail bond agent has more than 3 percent of their defendants failing to appear in Court, they are losing money.

No other method of pre trial release can match a 97 percent appearance rate. This means victims of crime get JUSTICE.

*Criminal Statutes established by the Legislature.

**Missouri Constitution, Article 1, Section 20.

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Written by Larry Newman

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