Bail Bond Confessions Blog

6 Weeks

November 20, 2010
3 Comments

And as usual, things have been exceedingly slow.  I’ve started to adapt.  I’m opening a second business at the end of the year which will likely keep me busy yet still allow the flexibility of posting the once a month bond.  In the past six weeks, I’ve had two new clients.  One was a $100 deal and the other was a $1200 or so bond.  I make enough to keep afloat, but I seem to always be just one more client away from making a profit.  Oh well.

In the past two days, I’ve been called to bond hearings by attorneys, only to have both defendants get out on their own recognizance.  There is a catch-22 with limiting myself only to attorney referrals.  The quality of defendant is much higher and risk of skip is much lower.  But the judges know that and set bonds accordingly.  Still, I’m pretty happy with how things are going and it seems like I get about one client a month.

I’m having a slightly harder time convincing attorneys to call me, though.  I wonder if they feel like they have to pay me something if I go to the bond hearing and then don’t get the bond?  Yesterday I turned down $500 and today I turned down $100 from attorneys/defendant’s families.  I explain that I’m not allowed to accept any money unless I actually perform the service, but they just don’t seem to grasp that and clearly look like they think I’m nuts.

One attorney even said that he has paid other bondsmen in the past for their time.  I just shrugged and told him that my understanding of the rules is that I can’t accept the money. I appreciate the gesture, but just consider it part of the service. Call it a free consultation if you will.

-bbc

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NPR has it wrong

January 25, 2010
25 Comments

NPR’s “All Things Considered” has a 3 part scathing story on bail bonds in America.   I have to say it is a seriously flawed report. First, the reporter focuses on a few individuals in three different jurisdictions and then uses their experiences to paint a picture across the whole nation.  If one baseball player is caught using steroids, does that mean that every baseball player does? Of course not.

Next, she conveniently ignores the fact that judges set bail and the conditions for bail.  Bondsman have absolutely no control over this, yet they are vilified as being “in control” of who gets free and who doesn’t. Poppycock.

Then, she ignores four other jurisdictions that ban the use of commercial bail bondsman (Oregon, Kentucky, Illinois, and Wisconsin) rather than comparing the experiences of defendants in those systems to those in the rest of the nation or even just in Lubbock, Broward, and NYC where she focuses. Probably, the reporter choose to ignore these other states because they did not support her supposition that the system is flawed and corrupt and if we got rid of commercial bail, the system would be better for it. Instead, those states have massive problems with defendants not showing up for court dates.

She also tries to tie the entire country together under the umbrella of flawed system, though clearly every state regulates their bail industry differently. There are radical differences between states on the fees that can be charged, conditions that can be set, and the way forfeitures are dealt with.  Instead of highlighting these differences and showing which states are most successful, she focuses on the weaknesses and alleges that every state has the same problems when clearly this is not possible.

Finally, and most importantly, she tries to make the point that poor people who can’t afford bail and that are not accused of major crimes are suffering here and they should be let “free” under PTI.  I have nothing against PTI and I support its use in the appropriate circumstances.  However, if these poor people who didn’t commit major crimes are really not a flight risk, why did the judge issue them bail in the first place?  Why not just let them out on their own recognizance?

I’ll tell you why.  Because when you are poor and you are a repeat offender, regardless of your guilt or innocence, you are not likely to have very many ties to keep you in the area, much less to ensure that you show up for your court date.  So if you are let out on a PR bond, you will likely skip out on court.

This is the point that the reporter is missing about why bail is set in the first place.  Bail is not a punishment nor is it an assumption of guilt.  It is just a tool that the courts can use to ensure that a defendant will show up to court.

PTI is really no different than a bail bondsman.  Both systems provide a check and balance function to ensure that individuals accused of a crime show up for court.  The main difference is in how they are funded.  PTI is funded by tax payer money.  Bail Bondsman are paid by the Defendants and/or their family.

-bbc


A short update…

November 17, 2009
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So remember the $35 guy?  He had his court date the other day.  Instead of pleading and paying the minor fine and/or just changing his license and asking for leniency, the guy asked for a jury trial!

Now I’m all for a strong defense, but this really seems like a waste of tax payer money.  I know he’s my client and all, but I kind of hope they find him guilty now!

I’d like a little more business now…anytime.  For one week. Then it’s baby time. Which means given my luck, it will be quiet for the next week and then crazy busy when the baby gets here!

-bbc


Zeb update and a new story

November 2, 2009
2 Comments

I bailed out Zeb the other day.  I guess it took about 6 weeks, but when the judge decided to push his court date back another 3 weeks, he and his girl Genevieve decided it was time to get out.

 


 

I’ve run into an unrelated situation that I’m unsure how to help with. The parents are both religious leaders and the son is in jail on a repeat offense of driving under suspension.  It isn’t anything serious, but the son just won’t get his act together. Typical story about hanging with the wrong crowd, etc etc.  The problem is that the parents can’t seem to get through to the son that he needs to get his life together. They’re thinking that keeping him in jail might be the way to teach him a lesson.  Part of me agrees, but at the same time, realizes that keeping him jail just keeps him interacting with people worse than him that might teach him stuff that will get him in deeper the next time.

I’m getting ready to become a parent myself and am worried about how I would deal with this if it was my kid.  What is the proper technique or response here?  How do you help someone get off the downward spiral if they don’t want to help themselves?

-bbc


Happy Labor Day!

September 7, 2009
2 Comments

My license and contact info was submitted to four local jails last week. So far, no phone calls have come in. I’m waiting on three more powers that will allow me to submit into three more counties.  Should get them some time tomorrow. Unfortunately, it is $100/county.  That isn’t a heck of a lot to spend on very well targeted advertising, however, it does add up when you don’t have any income. Meanwhile, I have a large stack of blank applications and a small stack of blank bonds.

While I was at one of the jails, a man who had had a newsworthy DUI was receiving guests.  On my way out, I chatted up one of the guests who was also leaving and asked if the guy in jail was going to get bailed out.  From the media reports, I knew that his bail amount was set very high.  The friend said they didn’t know and I told him I was a bondsman and let him know that I would be happy to help if possible.  He asked what I would charge, so I quoted him.  That was my second mistake.  He didn’t like that answer very much (it was 10% of a very large number) and so I gave him a card and we went our seperate ways. That was the third mistake.

What were the mistakes and why?

1) I forgot that it was illegal to “solicit” business in front of the jail.  I have to be very VERY careful of this in the future.  It is not my intention to break the law and I very honestly forgot about that regulation in moment.

2) When quoting a price to a potential client, I shouldn’t just blurt out the number.  I should feel them out and indicate that it is negotiable.

3) I shouldn’t let the potential client walk away without at least attempting to get their contact info.

I am only now starting to realize just how slippery a slope it is in trying to maintain a professional and ethical practice in this business.  Learning experiences.

-bbc


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