A bail bondsman is a person who provides bail bonds for people charged with crimes and who do not have the money necessary to post the entire bail with the court. The bail bondsman acts as a surety by providing money to the court for the person’s bail, promising the defendant will appear in court.
The bail bondsman will typically charge defendants a non-refundable fee of 10% of the amount of the bond, which represents the compensation the bail bondsman will receive in exchange for paying the full bail amount. If the defendant returns to court, the bail bondsman receives the full amount of the bail and the 10% charge from the defendant. If the defendant does not return to court, the bail bondsman keeps the 10% charge from the defendant but will lose the amount they paid towards the person’s bail unless they are able to locate the person and convince them to go back to court.
Four states, those being Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon, and Wisconsin, have banned commercial bail bonding altogether, while other states regulate the industry. In California, the bail bond industry is robust and regulated by the California Department of Insurance and the industry is subject to California’s Penal Code.
[Last updated in June of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]