Imagine this. You get arrested for some crime, get put behind bars, and now bail has been posted by the court for your release. What happens if you can’t afford to pay the bail amount? What if you don’t have any family or friends willing to bust you out of jail? Enter your local bondsman, cash in hand, ready to pay your bail for you on the agreement that you return to court when you are supposed to and that you will pay them a certain fee. This is no laughing matter. The contract you will sign is very real and very important. If you fail to live up to your end of the deal, or if you try to flee, the bondsman that contracted with you will do everything in their power to find you and get their money back. And since you signed a contract with them, you have very little argument against any actions they take to get their money back.
It can be helpful to review some vocabulary terms as you consider this kind of situation. First of all, bail is the amount of money that you pay to the court as a guarantee that you will return for your assigned court date. If you return, you get your money back. If you don’t, the cash is gone. Generally speaking, the more serious the crime, the higher the bail amount. A bondsman is the person who agrees to pay that bail for you so that you can get out of jail. They will make you sign a contract that states that you agree to return for your court date and pay them a certain percentage of your bail amount. A bounty hunter is someone hired by a bondsman to find a person who has run away in an effort to evade returning to court and paying the bondsman’s fee.
Tools of the Trade
So, how can a bondsman find you if you’ve run away? First of all, they can hire a bounty hunter. Now, the laws regarding bounty hunters and what they can and cannot do vary by state, so you’ll want to research the particulars of your home state. Bounty hunters are trained to hunt down a fugitive by contacting friends and family, interviewing associates, and searching public records for any sign of your whereabouts. This is often called skip tracing because they are tracing the steps of someone that has skipped town. They can even cross state lines and maintain their jurisdiction. All they usually need is a copy of the contract that you signed with your bondsman. In most states, they are allowed to search and enter the address listed as your home. Although they are not supposed to harm you, laws regarding this aspect of the trade vary as well. Basically, it’s best to just avoid this whole scenario by showing up at court when you said you would and paying the fees you agreed to pay.