Interestingly, a lot of attorneys don’t know the bail bonding process, and it’s only through trial and error that we learn how it works. But basically, here’s how bail bonds work and how a criminal defense attorney like me gets involved in the process.

First of all, it depends on whether the person is still in custody or not. Most of the time, people get bonded out, or they get a personal recognizance bond, which is where you sign an agreement to promise to come back, and if you don’t come back, then there will be a civil judgment against you, but you don’t necessarily need money right now.

Most of the time, my clients come to me after they’ve already bonded or if they’re on summons. But generally, bail bondsmen come into the picture where there’s a higher level bond where a family gets involved, and they say: “Help! My son is in on a $50,000 bond,” and then I have a couple of bail bondsmen I know and trust that I always send them to, to get the kind of the white glove treatment. We pay a little more in fees, but we can trust these guys.

When there are these legitimate, large bonds, there are times when the client will call me, and then I’ll call the bondsman, and I have them go up and meet each other at the jail and post the bond. That happens probably 5% of the time where I’m dealing with a bondsman upfront.

The other 95% of the time, bail bonds come into the picture if somebody misses their court date; they need what’s called “consent of surety” from a bondsman for that bond to be reinstated.
That’s where someone fails to appear, and we want to have the client ask the judge, “Hey, my bad, I promise not to fail to appear again. Can we reinstate the bond?” The judge may or may not say yes, but she’s certainly not going to say yes without the bondsman’s consent of surety.

Another issue is if you plead guilty and you’re on bond and sentencing is going to be set out in the future, it’s imperative to get that consent to surety so that we can stay on bond pending sentencing. And it makes sense for the bondsman because if someone pleads guilty and all that’s left is for them to go to jail on a specific date, the client is more likely to not appear than at any other point in time during the proceedings. So that’s a higher risk for the bondsman. And so that’s why you have to make sure that they have consent. So those are the two main times that I deal with bondsmen post-bond.

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Frequently Asked QuestionsFAQ: How Do Bail Bonds Work In Criminal Cases?