The bond process and using a bondsman

Asked over 2 years ago - Cleveland, OH

If there was a 50k bond and court only required 10% down, the bondsman paid the 5k and the defendant appeared to all court hearings. The case is now over and the defendant was sent to serve a 12 month sentence. The defendant never paid off the full 5k to the bondsman. Does the bondsman get his money back from the court? Does the defendant need to pay the remaining balance of the 5k? Can the bondsman sue the defendant or co-signor? How does the bond process work?

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Dennis Armand DiMartino

    Contributor Level 11

    Answered . There are a couple questions here.

    First, there is a huge difference between a $50,000 surety bond and a $50,000 10% bond.

    *A surety bond absolutely requires a bail bondsman to post basically an insurance policy with the Court that says "This person charged with a crime hired me and paid me a small amount of money and promised to return to Court for all Hearings. If he does not come back to Court, I promise to pay the Court $50,000." The bondsman charges the Defendant 10% of the face value of the bond for that service. In this case, 10% of $50,000 is $5,000. The Defendant pays the bondsman $5,000 and he is released from jail with the promise to return every time his is ordered by the Court. He won't have to pay anything more than the $5,000, provided he actually comes to Court. If he fails to appear, however, then the Defendant can be arrested, thrown in jail, and have to pay the remaining $45,000 in bond. Same goes for any person who co-signs for the Defendant; if the Defendant fails to appear, any co-signer can be required to pay the balance of the bond. This is why bail bondsmen always require co-signers and usually make those people collateralize their house, etc. as security on the bond. Even if the Defendant makes all his/her Court appearances, NONE of the $5,000 that was paid to the bondsman gets returned. That $5,000 is split between the bondsman who wrote the bond, the agency where the bondsman works, and the actual insurance company who issued the bond. So the $5,000 is essentially a "paycheck" for the bondsman. He doesn't give any of his "paycheck" back to the Defendant or his family.

    *The 10% is similar but not identical. Here, the same 10% figure is used, but instead of paying the bondsman, the Defendant pays the Court directly. So $5,000 is paid to the Court and the Defendant is released from the jail. More importantly, however, is what happens to the $5,000 at the end of the case. As I said above, in a surety bond situation, NONE of the money is returned; in a 10% bond situation, about 90% of that $5,000 is available to be used for fines, Court costs, probation fees, etc. If there is any money left over after those amounts are deducted, then the balance is returned to the person who posted it for the Defendant. In other words, a 10% bond is much, much better than a surety bond that is exactly the same amount, because you can use the money paid in a 10% bond whereas you cannot with a surety bond.

    If the Defendant owed the bondsman money on the bond, yes, he and any co-signers can be sued for the balance of the money. The Defendant and the co-signers promised to pay the bondsman in order to get the Defendant out of jail. The bondsman accepted their promise to pay, took some money down, and got him released from jail on the condition that they pay the balance. The bondsman did what he promised to do; now the Defendant and the co-signers need to do what they promised to do -- pay the bondsman in full.

    I hope this answered your question.

    Atty. Dennis A. DiMartino
    1032 Boardman-Canfield Road, Suite 103
    Youngstown, Ohio 44512
    330.629.9030 Ext. 111 Phone
    330.629.9036 FAX
    Dennis.DiMartino@gmail.com

    The above information is shared for educational and discussion purposes only. No Attorney-Client relationship is... more

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