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


4 in 3

September 11, 2010
Leave a Comment

So what does that title mean, eh?

It means in the past three months, I have lost four very solid potential clients. These are clients who hired attorneys, had the resources to pay my fee, and were motivated to show up to court. How did I lose them? The judges.

Lately, more and more often our local judges seem to be invoking a rare used option when setting bail:  The 10% option. The story goes that the judge sets the bail and then tacks on the 10% option and explains it that if the family posts 10% of the bond amount in either cash or property, than the defendant is let free and at the end of their case, the court returns the cash or property.

So yeah, now the courts are muscling into the bond business and cutting the bondsman out. This means that there is no collateral to secure the bond nor is there a motivated party out there keeping watch on the defendant and maintaining control over the situation. Furthermore, the courts get to earn interest on the money posted and that does not get returned to the family. In many cases, if there are penalties, court costs, or any other charges, it gets deducted from the posted amount. Oh and that goes for attorney’s fees too.

It’s damn hard to compete against the government.  I’m still trying to do this for a living, but between that and the general slowness of my current business model (only deal with attorney referrals), I’m keeping my eyes open for other business opportunities.

Who knows, I may have to change the title of this blog!

-bbc


Judge decides, bondsman shrugs

July 14, 2010
Leave a Comment

So last week, my client checks in with me and tells me he has court coming up. I’m surprised by this and ask what he is talking about.  He said he got a letter from his attorney saying there is a bond revocation hearing.

This is news to me.  He reads me the letter and it sounds like the prosecutor is proactively seeking to revoke bond based on my conversation with him a few weeks ago when I was gathering papers to submit for revocation.

Since then, there has been a date switch and what not, but much to my chagrin, I’ve yet to receive notice of the actual bond hearing, much less the date changes.  I only knew about it because I kept in contact with my client.

Anyway, we show up to court today and his attorney asks me if I would stay on bond.  I’ve given it much thought and because a) I feel like the parents share some responsibility in allowing the client to be in a situation where he was arrested and b) because the client is not a flight risk, I tell the attorney that I will stay on bond if given the option.  It doesn’t hurt that I’m trying to curry favor with the attorney.

Meanwhile, the prosecutor throws me right under the bus at the start of the hearing by telling the judge, attorney, and my client that he is initiating the hearing based on a conversation he had with me a few weeks prior. UGH.  At least he tempered it by adding that to date I have not submitted paperwork to revoke the bond.

The judge listened to both sides (and I was able to get more details of the somewhat horrific nature of the client’s crime) and finally ruled that the client can stay on bond as long as his official conditions are changed to include GPS monitoring and a 9pm-7am curfew.

Once that was over, I realize in discussions with the family that the client is currently residing at the grandmother’s house and clearly with GPS monitoring that will have to change.  I explain the situation to the attorney who calls the mother and smooth things out.

I get a call from the mother a few hours later.  I explain to her that the option is GPS monitoring and him staying at her house or he goes back to jail.  She seems ok with it, but then grows alarmed at the cost of the GPS monitoring. She calls me back a 2nd time to confirm that she would indeed have to pay for the court ordered monitoring.

Um…who else should pay so her son can have his freedom?  I’m sure as tootin’ not paying.

-bbc


Uh Oh…

June 19, 2010
2 Comments

So it has been a month since my last bond.  That part is worrisome enough, though I have enough reserves to keep going a few more months.  However this morning I got a surprise phone call from the parents of THIS guy. Seems they took the family on vacation to the beach.  While they were there, the kid got himself in trouble again.  Two charges, 1) leaving the scene and 2) Petit Larceny.

I don’t have the details yet, but the parents were insistent that they want to revoke his bond and they have no intention of paying the $600 to bond him out from the jail at the beach.

Here is where it gets interesting.  You may recall that the mother and the grandmother are indemnitors on the bond. Well…the grandmother wants the kid to stay on bond and says her other daughter is willing to step in as an additional indemnitor.

This is one big hot mess and as long as the kid is at the beach, I can’t really do much of anything since he is out of my jurisdiction and no warrant has been issued yet.  I’ve consulted with an attorney and with my surety company and it seems that the correct path right now is to wait until Monday.   It looks like the Aunt has gone out to the beach to bond the kid out and the Grandmother assures me he will be staying with her.  On Monday, I’ll go down to the court and file paperwork telling the court that the kid has violated a condition of his bond.  I’m going to leave it up to the judge to decide (as if I have a choice!) whether or not to revoke the bond.  If he decides to revoke it, I think I will offer to re-bond him (assuming the judge sets a new bond amount) to the grandmother, thus pissing off the parents.  If he decides to revoke the bond and not set a new one, I come off fairly clean two both parties since I’m just doing my job and it is out of my hands.  If the judge decides not to revoke the bond, then I’m stuck with a mess on my hands since the parents want off bond.  I think I’m going to tell them that I won’t be able to let them off of indemnification unless I’m able to secure collateral.

Any advice or ideas is more than welcome…

-bbc


Quiet Day

September 16, 2009
Leave a Comment

Today was quiet, which I suppose is a good thing.  Yesterday, I drove out to my county jail and met with an administrator there to ensure that they actually post my info.  While waiting to meet her, a group of 57 5th graders showed up for a field trip. Seems like an odd place to take a field trip.  My meeting went quickly and smoothly.  While I waited to leave (all 57 kids were piling in single file), there was an attractive young woman waiting behind me to exit also.  We walked out together when the path was clear and I made small talk to the parking lot. Turns out that she is an attorney and was meeting with a client. I offered her some business cards, hopefully it will turn into something.

Then I got on the highway to go out to that far away county from last week that gave me so much trouble with my license. Seeing as how it was Tuesday and the timing was right, I figured I should go down in person.  10 minutes into the trip, a lady from the far away clerk of court’s office called and said she needed more proof of collateral/net worth from me. I turned right around and headed back to my local county clerk of court. They basically typed up the same letter that I previously submitted, but they signed it this time and included a photocopy of the appropriate legal code.  I got verbal acknowledgement from the obstinate county that this would be acceptable and then headed out there.  I dropped off the paperwork and ensured my license was accepted.  Then I headed out to the detention center. I dropped off copies of the paperwork and my contact info, but I’m not sure if they will post it.  I’ll follow up next week.

Got home and started tying up some loose ends.  I’ve applied for an account with a background search company.  Everything looked OK, but they require original copies (oxymoron) of my articles of incorporation.  I sent them what I have, but it was all done online and they didn’t seem pleased with what I sent them. I pointed out that those documents are public and it seems rather silly that they would require me to provide them with information that they should have access to.  Not only should they have access to it, but that is the kind of stuff they sell. Thats like the movie theater asking you to send them the script before they let you buy a ticket.  Makes no sense.

Finally, there is a huge money making racket going on in our prison systems. Prisoners are only allowed to make collect phone calls and the prisons have contracted out to 3rd party telephone companies that specialize in providing a high cost (automated) service and they use monopolistic practices to maintain the ability to charge inflated rates.  I realized that I needed to set up accounts with these companies so I can start accepting calls from the jails. Well…I guess one of them is going through a significant shake up or acquisition because although its website says they have 24/7 customer service, you can e-mail them at any time, or you can use the instant chat method, none of these generated expected responses.  I called the customer service number nearly a half dozen times throughout the day and each time it resulted in me navigating the automated system to the option for speaking with a live person, only to be transferred to a message saying they were all busy and to call back.  Then it hung up on me.  Using the IM route, I’m told immediately that no one is available and to try back later.  I did send an e-mail, but it took over 24 hours before I even received an automated response.  Wonderful.

Before the day ended, I wrote a Thank You note to the bitchy clerk in that far away county.  It never hurts to butter them up for next time.  I also wrote a lengthy letter of commendation to my local clerk of court expressing my gratitude for all that they have done to help me get started.  Sure, I complain all the time, but it is nice to be able to write a non-complaint letter every now and again.  Especially when someone deserves it and this staff definitely deserve it.

At least I get to look forward to an ultrasound appointment for the baby on Friday.

-bbc


The good, the bad, the ugly

September 9, 2009
1 Comment

In my state, when you get your license, you have to go to every county you wish to do business in and submit your license to that county’s clerk of court.  Every county is different, but the fee structure is the same.  Once you are in the clerk of court’s computer, you can then get your contact info posted in the jails.

My state has lots of counties and I’m not planning on servicing all of them.  I’ve used a formula that includes geographic distance, amount of crime, and amount of competition in choosing where I want to work.  Today, I went to the last three counties on my list.  They are fairly rural and unfortunately spread out from each other by a bit of distance.  I got to the first one around 10am and discovered that out of an office of eight people, only two people could process my license.  Both of those people were in the court (which was in session).  I was told I could wait till lunch, which was to be around 1pm.  I had little choice but to wait.  I attempted to sit in the courtroom to at least view the proceedings, but a bailiff would not allow me in there because I admitted to having a cell phone, even though the phone was turned off (PER THE SIGN POSTED OUTSIDE THE COURTROOM).  He insisted that I lock my phone in my car or I would not be allowed in the courtroom.  Instead, I planted my ass in the clerk of courts office.  Eventually, one of the other six workers took pity on me and arranged to have one of the two workers in the court room come out and process my paperwork when she had an opportunity.  She told me that they push the contact info to the county detention center, so I didn’t need to stop there.  Total time spent, about an hour.

Then I get in my car and drove an hour to the next county.  It was a pleasant drive though I had a hard time finding the courthouse. The street name listed on my directions and GPS didn’t exist any longer.  I found the “Square” which many of these old southern towns have, but the building had burned down so many times that eventually they moved it a few blocks away.

Once I found it, it didn’t take long to get my license processed and they were very friendly.  The deputy at the door even recommended a lunch spot. Next, I stopped by their detention center.  There is a small air-conditioned hallway that was packed full with about 15 people waiting for visitation.  Another 20 or so people were waiting outside smoking.  I got in “line”, but the line wasn’t moving.  Being the only white male, well dressed, and carrying paperwork, eventually one of the women in line asked if I was here for visitation.  I told her no, I was just trying to drop off some paperwork.  She was like “Child, get your ass up here then.  We’re all waiting on these damn guards and they ain’t in no rush to help us.”  The line (all black women) seemed amused that I would wait patiently (I was out in the heat) and not make any fuss and they seemed happy for me skip up to the front.  I explained what I was there for and a deputy took my information.  She posted a copy of my license next to her desk, started to say something and then got called away in a big hurry.  I waited a few moments and started to leave.  I said “I guess I’m done…” and one of the women in line said “Hell no. You stay right there and wait for her to get back so you are sure its done right.”  So I stayed put.

After a few moments of waiting, I asked the ladies in line if everyone was there for visitation and I got a minor chorus of “uh huh, yup”.  I mentioned that this was my 5th detention center in two days and none of them had more than two or three people waiting at any given time.  This caused a lot of snickering about how backwards this particular county can be.

Then another woman asked if I was with the State government.  I explained that I was a bail bondsman and I was trying to get my contact information posted in the jail so I could do business.  She asked if I was local and I told her I was about an hour away, but it isn’t a far drive or anything.  She asked if I would give her a business card so I said sure and handed her one. Then another woman asked for one also.  After that, the deputy said I was done so I wished them good luck and went on my way.  This time, I think I did it right.  No one can accuse me of soliciting business, they asked me for my card.  My only mistake?  I gave them only one card each.  I need to remember to hand out at least two cards per person.  They can keep one and pass one on if needed. Still learning, I guess.

I skipped the deputies suggestion and instead had a nice lunch at one of my favorite fancy restaurants.  It’s in a strip mall in the middle of nowhere, but you would swear you were in NYC.  $15 for French Dip with Truffle Fries.  I tipped the waitress well and included a couple business cards.  You never know.

Finally, I got in the car for the last hour and a half drive to the border county. My route took me through many small towns and picturesque farm fields.  I got to the courthouse at around 4pm. Made my way through the maze of offices to the clerk’s office and was directed by six office workers to another part of the building.  None of those six were doing anything, they were just hanging out talking, playing solitaire on the computer, and reading newspapers.  I get to the right place and explain myself.  The woman behind the counter takes my paperwork and walks away.  She comes back a little while later with another lady.  This new lady explains that they only process bail bondsman licenses on Tuesdays between 11am-3pm and that I should come back then! I pleaded my case being from out-of-town and all.  They took my paperwork and payment, but reiterated that they will not process me until Tuesday 11am-3pm.  I kept my cool and thanked them.

Pardon my french, but that is just FUBAR.  They spent more time telling me they won’t process my paperwork than any one of the other counties spent actually processing it.  I understand it is a two part process.  They have to stamp my license and give me a copy(s).  Then they have to enter it in the system.  I begged them just to stamp and copy it so I could go to the detention center and get my contact info posted.  Since I don’t have any clients, it doesn’t matter to me if they wait until Tuesday to put me in the system.  No luck, she refused to budge.  She told me that the clerk of court has decided that they are just way to busy in that office to have to stop and process bail bondsman’s licenses every few minutes which is why they only do it between 11am-3pm on Tuesdays.  She might be able to mail it to me, she said she would call once she talked with the clerk of court.  I told her, I would be happy to pay for mailing.  She told me that it is $2.50 a copy (HIGHWAY FRIGGING ROBBERY!), so I wrote her a check for $5 and told her to just give me one copy and use the rest to mail it.  We’ll see what happens. Unbelievable.

-bbc


%d bloggers like this: