Bail bonding agencies are organizations that step in to lend money to defendants when they would like to be released from jail. Most bail bonding agencies will charge about ten percent of the amount of the bail in order to fork over the full amount of the bail. As such, if a defendant has a bail set at $100,000, then bail bonding agency will charge the defendant $10,000 as a down payment for the full amount of the bail. The bonding agency will give the court the full $100,000, but only as a guarantee that the defendant will show up to court to stand trial.
In the event that the defendant fails to show up to court, the bail bonding agency will lose the full bail bond.
However, if the defendant does show up to court, then the bail bonding agency will get a refund of the amount of the bail bond that is equal to one hundred percent, minus some administrative fees. However, the down payment that the defendant has to make is not refundable. Therefore, if the defendant makes a $10,000 for a $100,000 bail, that defendant will lose all $10,000, even if he or she shows up to court.
Defendants do not have to use bail bonding agencies. In fact, it is cheaper if a defendant can fork over the full amount of the bail on his or her own. When a defendant can pay the full bail amount, as long as the defendant goes to trial on his or her court date, he or she will get a full refund of the bail amount. However, most people do not have enough money in order to post bail, so they require the assistance of a bail bondsman.
If a defendant works with a bail bondsman and does not actually go to court to stand trial, the bondsman will likely send a bounty hunter after the defendant. When the bounty hunter finds the defendant, he can arrest the defendant and make him or her return to jail. In such a case, the bonding agency may receive a refund of the amount of the bail bond. The U.S. is the only country that allows bounty hunting.
Bonding agencies may also make money if a defendant puts up real property as collateral for bail. If the defendant fails to show up to court, then the bail bonding agency may take the real property and sell it for more than it bought it for. Such is the case when a bonding agency takes out a lien on a house and sells the house at foreclosure for the cost of the lost bail bond money.