Apart from the fact that as a bail bondsman, you can make $25,000-$30,000 the first year and an average of $55,000 (with some experience), as a bail bondsman you are helping both the judicial system and people in trouble. Starting a bail bondsman business is a very attractive venture especially if you understand the growth potential. There are no businesses in the industry that have captured a majority of the market share which means that it is still up for grabs. Regardless of the slow growth in the industry, it is a guaranteed revenue builder if done right.
We will be discussing how do bail bondsmen make money in 2022
What is a Bail Bondsman?
When a person gets arrested for a crime, a judge decides how much money it will cost you to be released before your court date. This amount is your bail.
Bail acts as a guarantee that a defendant will actually show up in court on their appointed court date. If they show up in court like they’re directed to, they get that money back. If they do not, they forfeit their money. Bail is also a set amount of money that acts as insurance between the court and the person in jail (the defendant).
Defendants have the option to pay their bail in cash, but many don’t have the full bail amount available, so they consult a bondsman to guarantee the full bail to the court. The bondsman will offer a written agreement to the defendant and collect a non-refundable premium fee of up to fifteen percent of the full bail. If the accused doesn’t show up to court, the bondsman must pay the entire bail.
What is a Bail Bond?
A Bail Bond is a type of surety bond provided by a surety bond company through a bail agent or Bail Bondsman that secures the release of a defendant from jail. There are two types of Bail Bonds:
- Criminal Bail Bond: used in criminal cases and guarantees that a defendant appears for trial when called upon by the court and guarantees payment for any fines or penalties that are decided against the defendant.
- Civil Bail Bond: used in civil cases and guarantee the payment of the debt, plus interest and costs, assessed against the defendant.
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How do Bail Bonds Work?
A judge sets a bail amount. If the defendant cannot pay the bail amount on their own, they can seek help from a Bail bondsman in the form of a Bail Bond.
To post a Bail Bond, a defendant is usually required to pay a Bail bondsman 10% of the bail amount.
The Bail bondsman will then secure the rest of the bail amount in the form of collateral. If the defendant does not have enough collateral, the Bail Bondsman might seek out relatives and friends to assist in covering the bail.
Oftentimes, an additional cash payment plus full collateral is required for a Bail Bond to be posted.
What happens next depends on if the defendant appears in court after being released.
- If defendant fails to appear in court: The Bail Bond is forfeited and the court requires the remaining 90% of the bail to be paid. The Bail Bondsman will use the defendant’s collateral (house, jewelry, stocks, etc) to pay the court the remaining bail amount.
- If a defendant does appear for court: Upon conclusion of the court case, the Bail Bond is dissolved and the collateral is returned to the person who posted it. The Bail bondsman keeps the 10% cash fee as profit.
Bail Bond Example
For example, John is arrested. The court set John’s bail at $10,000. John wants to be released from jail but he does not have $10,000 in cash, so he seeks help from a Bail bondsman to post a Bail Bond for him.
The bondsman requires $1,000 to post a Bail Bond for John, thus releasing him from jail.
For the other $9,000 of bail, the bondsman secures collateral from John and/or John’s family. Collateral could be in the form of a car, a house, jewelry, etc.
- As long as John appears at all necessary court dates, the Bail Bondsman requires no more money and the Bail Bond is dissolved at the conclusion of John’s case. John’s would get his $9,000 in collateral returned, but he would not get the $1,000 back; the bondsman would keep this as profit.
- If John does not appear in court, though, the bondsman would have to pay the court the remaining $9,000 of bail. To do this, the bondsman would use John’s collateral.
If John had posted the $10,000 in cash, he would be entitled to a refund at the conclusion of the case, regardless of the outcome.
How Do Bail Bondsmen Make Money
Say, for example, that you are arrested and have bail set at $20,000. In the state of Pennsylvania, you’d have to pay $2,000 (10% of the bail) as a “surety” to get out of jail before trial. Most people don’t have that kind of cash lying around and lack the liquid assets to get those funds quickly. Enter the bail bondsman, who agrees to pay this $2,000 in exchange for a premium and a written agreement.
Avenues to Earn Money in Bail Bonds
- 1. The non-refundable premium bail fee: This is the main form of revenue for existing bail bond businesses. For every transaction that is made, an added cost is added. This fee doesn’t get refunded to the defendant if they appear in court on their court date. The bondsman keeps that fee. If the charges are dropped, the bondsman still keeps the money.
2. Payment Plan Options: Sometimes the defendant’s family or friends can’t afford the premium bail fee, so many bondsmen can work out payment plan options depending on qualifications.
3. Collateral: The defendant may put up property as collateral for bail. This can include real estate properties. Collateral can also include stocks, bonds, credit cards, and bank accounts. The bondsman may sell this property to recoup the bail amount lost and many times for more than what was originally paid if permitted by state laws. With this extra surety set up, you can legally take control of the item or property and keep, sell, or exchange it. This can be a big income generator for a bail bondsman. Just be sure that the possessed item(s) first covers the cost of the bond that you have paid out of pocket, this way you will be operating at a profit rather than a loss.
When you contact a bail bondsman, they’ll collect a lot of information about you. Things such as employment history, criminal history, and other background information. They’ll also want to know about your financial assets. What they want to determine is how much of a risk you are for them if they bail you out.
High bail amounts can mean a tidy profit if you show up for court, but it also means a considerable loss if you don’t. First-time offenders with low flight risk are good bets for a bondsman. Repeat offenders with a high flight risk may not be worth the risk. Large collateral means you have more to risk on your side. After all, you could lose your car, your home, and your valued possessions if the person being bailed out doesn’t show up for court because the bail bondsman may be allowed to seize these to recover their losses.
Quantity Vs. Quality
So how would a bail bondsman make money doing this? A bail bondsman can turn a respectable profit by optimizing risk versus reward, and even by focusing on low bail amounts in high quantities. Remember that a bail bondsman can have quite a few clients. $105 isn’t much per contract, but ten low-risk clients in a day tally up to over $1000.
Some bail bondsmen choose to gamble with higher stakes. The higher risks are worth it if they feel that the collateral you put on your contract will be sufficient to pay off your debt, should you fail to fulfill your obligations.
How Much Does a Bail Bondsman Make?
Before a person can become a bondsman, they must be trained and licensed, pass a written exam and be fingerprinted. The state’s own department of insurance issues the license. They must pass a written exam and in some states put up a personal surety bond of $5,000.
Similar to the states’ laws, a bondsmen’s salary can vary widely. Most starting their careers will make $25,000-$30,000 the first year, but with some experience, can earn an average of $55,000. You can enjoy a rewarding career as a bail bondsman by helping both the judicial system and people in trouble.
Bail bondsmen enjoy a variety of work experiences and travel. The industry is also steady; people enter the court system regularly, so there is always plenty of work for a bondsman.
As a successful bondsman, you need to make sure that you fulfill all legal requirements and ensure that there are strong binding agreements set before you take on customers. That way you have more security if the defendant decides not to show up on the court date. As a bail bondsman, you will not be successful or make money if you do not have these agreements in place and agreed upon.
Along with that, meeting with the client is a good way to keep them accountable. You can keep track of where they are and how they are doing while they wait for a court date. In some higher-risk cases, this can be weekly but otherwise, it may be monthly.
If the defendant does not check in with the bondsman at the appointed time, it is an advisable time to seek help from the defendant’s family and friends. This helps prevent last-minute surprises before or on the court date. The most successful bail bondsman businesses know that each defendant is different and the intervals for check-ins will need adjustments from case to case. Being a successful and profitable bondsman, you also know that there will be other professionals that you will need to work with on occasion. Bounty hunters and bail recovery agents are common in the industry just in case something go wrong. Working with a good team of professionals ensures that you remain successful even if a defendant decides to go missing.