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Bail bondsmen work to ensure that a person released from jail will appear again in court as ordered. A "typical" case (although, in reality, every case is unique) a bail bondsman handles may play out like this: It's late at night and the bondsman's office phone rings. A woman says her son has been arrested and his court date for trial is four months down the road. The judge set her son's bail at $30,000, and she doesn't have that kind of money. She doesn't want her son to sit in jail for four months for something she's sure he didn't do. (The bondsman may have doubts about the arrested person's guilt or innocence, but that's not an issue for the bondsman to decide.) The mother wants the bondsman's help in getting her son out on bail. She offers to pay the bondsman's fee, which at 10 percent of the bail amount would be $3,000, in exchange for the bondsman covering the bail. At that point the bondsman must decide if the son is a good risk—if he doesn't show up for his court date, the bondsman loses the money posted for bail. The bondsman does research before deciding to take the case. Using the phone and computers, the bondsman gathers more information, such as the type of crime the son allegedly committed, any past record he may have, if he works and what his employer says about him, and what other ties he has to the community. After this research, the bondsman may decide to post bond or reject the case. If the bondsman takes the case and posts bond, and the client shows up for his court date, the bondsman gets the posted money back. If the client fails to show up for court, either the bondsman himself goes after the client or the bondsman hires bounty hunters (also known as bail enforcement agents and fugitive recovery agents) to track down the son and bring him back. Depending on the state, the court gives the bondsman from 90 to 180 days to have the defendant back for trial before bail money is forfeited to the court system.
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