If I pay the cash bail amount to the court so I can be released from jail while I await trial, I get that money back when the trial is over. So why doesn’t the bail bond agent refund me the 10% fee he charges for a bail bond?
Your bail bond agent performs a service by posting a bail bond with the court to get you released from jail. He will only agree to post a bond for you, if he trusts you to appear in court. That is why the bail bond agent underwrites each bail bond request by evaluating the trust-worthiness of the arrestee. He considers your arrest history, whether you have failed to appear in the past, your ties to the community and other factors to make his decision. This is important to the bail bond agent, because he must pay the full bail amount to the court, if your bail is revoked for violating the bail terms. He will attempt to find you and return you to jail, but if he can’t do that within the court’s time limit, he must pay the full bail.
Once the bail bond agent decides to take the risk that you will appear in court as required, he will submit the bail bond to the court and get you released from jail. He charges you a fee that is usually 10% of the full bail amount. It is likely that you can use a credit card to pay the fee or the bail bond agent may offer to take monthly payments for his fee. In addition, he will keep in touch with you to make sure you don’t miss any court appearances, since he is at risk if you do.
So why doesn’t the bail bond agent refund the fee to me? First of all, he must pay an insurance premium to his surety company that re-insures your appearance in court. If you fail to appear and the bail bond agent is unable to pay the full bail amount to the court, the surety company must pay it. This insurance premium varies from 1% to 2% of the 10% fee you paid. In addition, the bail bond agent will end up paying the full bail amount for forfeitures on 3% to 5% of the bonds he writes. These two things cost the bail bond agent 4% to 7% of the 10% fee he collects from arrestees. The remaining 3% to 6% of the fee is used by the bail bond agent to cover his overhead and provide him with a reasonable living.
So you can see that the bail bond agent can’t afford to refund any of the 10% fee he charges and remain in business to provide a reasonable income for his family.