How Bail Bonds Work

WHAT IS BAIL?

Bail is an amount of money or property that is deposited with a court by a person who has been charged with a crime. A defendant who has been arrested for a crime will usually be held in custody until some form of bail has been posted. Bail is the defendant’s guarantee to be present at all court proceedings.

DO I HAVE A RIGHT TO RELEASE ON BAIL?

Yes, for most offenses, except murder and certain violent felonies.

HOW IS THE AMOUNT OF BAIL SET?

The amount and type of bail are fixed by the judge at the first appearance before the court. A court will consider the defendants individual circumstances when the amount of bail is set. The bail amount must be sufficient to ensure that the defendant will appear for all scheduled proceedings. A court must also consider the safety of the community, the seriousness of the alleged crime and the defendant’s record.

WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF BAIL BONDS?

All bail bonds are “appearance bonds.” Appearance bonds can be posted by a bail bonding agent. “Personal recognizance bonds” and “property bonds” are obtained from a court.

WHAT IS A "PERSONAL RECOGNIZANCE BOND"?

A “personal recognizance bond”, when authorized by a court, permits release from custody on the defendant’s “personal recognizance”, which is a promise to appear as required by a court.

A “property bond” may only be obtained from a court. If the court permits, a defendant may be allowed to deposit cash or other valuable property to be held by the clerk as a guarantee that the defendant will appear as required. Some jurisdictions allow property bonds guaranteed by a pledge of unencumbered equity in Colorado real estate. Equity of no less than 1-1/2 times the bail amount is required. Other courts do not allow real estate to be used as a property bond. Requirements and procedures for property bonds vary between jurisdictions.

WHAT IS A BAIL BONDING AGENT?

A bail bonding agent posts a defendant’ appearance bond and guarantees that the defendant will appear whenever required. Bail bonding agents must be licensed by the State and have an appointment from an insurance company or be a qualified cash bonding agent. Bail bonding agents are paid a premium, which is usually nonrefundable, to post the bond. If the defendant fails to appear, the court may order the bond “forfeited” and require the bonding agent to pay the court the full amount of the bond. Bail bonding agents have the right to apprehend, return the defendant to custody, and to use collateral taken for the bond to pay the bond forfeiture and costs.

WHAT ARE "BOND CONDITIONS"?

The defendant must also agree to meet certain requirements known as “conditions.” The most important condition is that the defendant must appear at all hearings. Failure to appear may result in arrest and forfeiture of the bond amount. “Failure to Appear” is a separate criminal offense that can result in imprisonment from 6 months to 1 year and the loss of eligibility for probation or suspended sentence. (’18-8-212, C.R.S.) Other standard conditions prohibit the defendant from committing a crime or leaving Colorado while released on bail. The defendant must acknowledge the existence of a mandatory restraining order that prohibits contact with witnesses or the alleged victim. Defendants are commonly required to immediately notify the court of any change in residence or mailing address.

AM I REQUIRED TO APPEAR AT ALL COURT HEARINGS?

Yes. The most important condition of the bond is your agreement to appear at each and every court hearing. It is your responsibility to know where and when those hearings are set.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I FAIL TO APPEAR IN COURT AS REQUIRED?

The court may issue a warrant for your arrest, revoke your bond or increase the amount of your bond. You may also be charged with a completely new crime, known as “failure to appear.” The bail bond may be forfeited and the property or money deposited as collateral for the bail bond may be lost.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I MISS A COURT APPEARANCE DATE?

It is important for you to act quickly. If you posted a bond with a bail bonding agent, contact the agent immediately. The bail bonding agent may provide you with a consent of surety. You must take the consent of surety to the court clerk and ask for a new court date.

If you did not post a bond through a bonding agent, then go to the court clerk as soon as possible and make arrangements for a new court date. In either case, a warrant was probably issued for your arrest for failure to appear.

WHAT IS A CONSENT OF SURETY?

A consent of surety is a written document that you get from your bail bonding agent. Bail bonding agents are not required to give you a consent of surety. (If you cannot get a consent of surety, you may be required to post a new bond.)You may need a consent of surety for a Bond Reinstatement – If you have failed to appear in court when required, the bond may be void unless you obtain a consent; or for a Bond Continuance If you are convicted, plead guilty, nolo contendere, or there is an order of deferred prosecution or deferred judgment, your bond will automatically expire unless you obtain a consent of surety for the appearance bond to continue until your sentencing date.

THE BONDING AGENT GAVE ME A CONSENT OF SURETY BUT CHARGED A FEE TO STAY ON MY BOND. IS THIS LEGAL?

No. Bonding agents are not allowed to charge a consent fee to stay on a bail bond.

I CO-SIGNED FOR A BAIL BOND AND THE DEFENDANT MISSED COURT. DO I AUTOMATICALLY HAVE TO PAY THE AMOUNT OF THE BOND TO THE BAIL BONDING AGENT?

Courts generally allow a short period of time before judgment on the bond is entered. It is in your best interest to immediately contact the bail bonding agent and assist in having the defendant appear in court before judgment is entered. If the bail bonding agent has to locate and arrest the defendant, you may be responsible for related fees and expenses. Surrendering the defendant may keep you from having to pay the full amount of a forfeited bond.

IS A BAIL BONDING AGENT AUTHORIZED TO ARREST A DEFENDANT?

Yes. The defendant is obligated by the bail agreement to appear when required by the court. The bail bonding agent is authorized by contract to use reasonable force to apprehend and return the defendant to custody.

DOES THE BAIL BONDING AGENT HAVE THE POWER TO REVOKE MY BOND?

Yes. The bail bonding agent may revoke a bond for almost any reason.

CAN I GET MY MONEY BACK IF THE BOND IS REVOKED BY MY AGENT?

Maybe. Only the court has the authority to order the bonding agent to return the premium. Youwill need to ask the court to order the refund of premium. (’16-4-108(1)(c), C.R.S.)

CAN I LEAVE COLORADO WHILE I AM OUT ON BAIL?

No, unless you receive permission from the court and the bonding agent. It depends on the terms of your bond set by the court and on your agreement with the bonding agent. You will probably need the court’s approval and a Consent of Surety.

DO I HAVE TO NOTIFY THE COURT OF A CHANGE IN MY ADDRESS?

Yes. Most appearance bond forms contain a standard condition that requires you to notify the court immediately if you change your residence or address.

WHAT IS "COLLATERAL?"

“Collateral” is a deposit of money or property to protect the bail bonding agent from loss if the defendant fails to appear and the bond is forfeited. Collateral can come from the defendant, or from friends and family, who are known as “co-signers” or “indemnitors.” A written contract must be signed when the collateral is taken and the bail bonding agent must provide a receipt. The bail bonding agent has a right to use collateral to pay forfeitures and the expenses of apprehending and returning the defendant to custody.

HOW DO I GET COLLATERAL BACK?

You must go to the court where the bond was posted and get a “bond release” or “certificate of discharge” which must be given to the bail bonding agent. The bonding agent then has ten (10) working days, not including weekends and holidays, to return your collateral.

CAN I BE CHARGED FOR STORAGE OF MY COLLATERAL?

Yes, but you can only be charged if the collateral was stored in a public storage facility. You are only liable for the actual storage fees charged to the bonding agent. The bonding agent is required to inform you of the storage fees you will be charged at the time the contract is negotiated. (Remember, the agent must give you a receipt for the collateral.)

DO BONDING AGENTS ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS?

Yes. Bonding agents commonly accept credit cards. You may be able to charge the premium for your appearance bond and all necessary collateral on your credit card.

HOW CAN I MAKE INSTALLMENT PREMIUM PAYMENTS?

The bonding agent may or may not negotiate a premium installment payment plan with you. If a plan is arranged it must be in writing and must state the amount to be paid and when the payments are due.

IF THE COURT DISMISSED THE CHARGES, CAN I GET MY MONEY BACK?

Maybe. If the charges are dismissed within ten (10) working days, a court may, after a hearing, order bail bonding agent to return some of the premium. (’16-4-108 (1.5), C.R.S.)

I AM BEING CHARGED BOUNTY HUNTING FEES. IS THIS LEGAL?

Maybe. Read the bail agreement carefully to see what bounty hunting fee(s) you have agreed to pay. It is always a good idea to ask for a statement of the costs incurred.

HOW DO I GET A RECEIPT OR COPY OF MY BAIL CONTRACT?

Contact the bonding agent and request copies of the documents you need. If you are unable to get copies, call the insurance company on your bond. If you still do not receive the documents, call the Division of Insurance.

I CANNOT FIND THE BONDING AGENT WHO WROTE MY BOND. HOW CAN I CONTACT THE AGENT?

If you know the bonding agent’s name, call Assessment Systems, Inc. (ASI) at 1-800-275-8247 to get an address and telephone number. If you do not have the agent’s name, you must contact the court clerk who can get the information from the appearance bond.

HOW LONG DOES THE BONDING AGENT HAVE TO WRITE MY BOND?

The bond must be posted within 24 hours of receipt of full payment or a signed contract for payment. If the bond is not posted, all moneys, premium and collateral must be refunded, and all liens released, within 48 hours of receipt.

THE BAIL BONDING AGENT TOOK MY MONEY BUT DIDN ’T POST THE BOND. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Contact the bail bonding agent and the insurance company and request the return of your money. If you do not receive a prompt refund, contact the Division of Insurance.

THE BONDING AGENT POSTED BOND, BUT THE DEFENDANT DID NOT GET OUT OF JAIL. WHAT CAN I DO?

If the bond was posted, the bonding agent acted properly. However, another court or law enforcement agency may have a “hold” of some type on the defendant. Only the court has the authority to order the bonding agent to return the premium. You will need to present your request to the court and request the court consider the refund of premium. (’16-4-108 (1.5), C.R.S.)

WHAT IS THE COST FOR A BAIL BOND POSTED BY A BONDING AGENT?

The bonding agent may charge up to 15% of the amount of the bond. For example, if your bond amount is $1,000 the bonding agent may charge you a fee (“premium”) of up to $150 plus actual filing fees charged by the jail. However the bondsman may also discount the rate, tipically to 10 %.

What is Collateral?

Collateral is some property placed within the bondsman’s legal control, which may be sold in the event the defendant does not show for the next court proceeding. The bondsman can then sell the property to cover the amount paid to post the bail. Essentially, collateral is a way of insuring the defendant will go back to court and complete his/her obligation to the court.

What Do Bondsmen Accept As Collateral?

  • Each bonding office will have there own standards but, for the most part they will take:
  • Real Estate
  • Cars
  • Credit Cards
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Jewelry
  • Personal Credit
  • Bank Accounts
  • Flat Screen Televisions & Electronics

Can I finance the bail bond fee?

Yes. We do offer payment plans for those who qualify.

We accept the following forms of payment:

  • Cash
  • Visa
  • Master Card
  • Property/valuables
  • Discover
  • Personal, Cashier’s, or Traveler’s Checks
  • Quick Collect
  • Electronic Bank Transfers

Tips for Using Bondsman

Make sure you only deal with a licensed bail agent. Ask to see the bail agent’s license and identification prior to any bail transaction.

Make sure the bail agent charges you only legal rates not to exceed 15% or $50 minimum per bond plus bonding, booking, and filing fees required by the court and or detention facility. Any additional charges should be itemized and explained to your satisfaction.

Make sure you are given itemized receipts for all charges.

Make sure you are given copies of all signed contracts and agreements.

If financing is provided, make sure you understand the terms of the financing agreement prior to signing and be sure you are given copies of anything you sign.

Make sure the bail agent you contract with will be available to you after the bail bond has been posted. Part of what you pay for is service. Any professional bail agent will be available for questions or concerns throughout the entire process.

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