A bail bondsman is a licensed and insured “Surety Agent” as defined by the Statutes of Florida Law. Bail bondsmen provide monitoring and assistance with the criminal justice and adjudication process. When a bondsman writes a bond, it is essentially a promise made to the courts that the accused will be present at the first and every subsequent court appearance until the accused is adjudicated. If the defendant misses any required appearance, the bondsman’s responsibility is to locate the defendant and return him or her into the jail, or the bondsman will be forced to pay the full amount of the bond to the courts.

  • A person cannot be returned to jail for not paying the bondsman all the money due on the bond.
    • However; a civil suit can be brought against the person for the amount owed, plus all applicable costs.
  • The accused can have their bonds revoked if they are arrested again after posting a bond in the following circumstances
    • If untruthful information is provided on their bond application.
    • If there is a change in address(es) that is not updated with the bondsman.
    • If there is warranted reason for the bondsman to believe they may not make their court required appearances.
    • If the person on bond departs the local area without written permission of both the court and the bondsman.

Once someone is booked into the jail, there may or may not be a bond set at the time of arrest (depending on the nature of the offense or the suspects past criminal history). If a bond is set and there are not any other factors that would prevent their release, that person is able to have a bond posted on their behalf and be released from the jail. If a no-bond is issued, the accused most likely will be held until their “first appearance,” hearing. At this hearing the judge typically will either:

  • Release a person on his or her promise to appear at all subsequent court appearances (commonly referred to as release on own recognizance “ROR”).
  • Set a cash or a surety bond.
  • Hold the accused in jail with a no-bond without the opportunity to bond out.

It’s important to note that a person cannot be returned to jail for failing to pay the bondsman all the money due on the bond. However, a civil suit can be filed against the person for the amount owed, in addition to all applicable costs.

  • Stay in jail and await the final disposition of the accusation.
  • If the bond is set at a higher level than the accused can afford they can stay in jail and request their attorney to seek a bond reduction hearing (see Bond Reduction Hearing section below).
  • Pay the full amount of the bond in cash to the jail.
  • Contact a bail bondsman, who by law charges 10% of the face amount of the bond.
    • If a bail amount is less than $1,000, you would still be required to pay your bail bondsman $100 for release.
    • Please note that this a non-refundable fee.

A Bond Reduction hearing is usually set by the accused’s attorney, and most of the time will be held before the judge assigned to the accused’s case. If the accused doesn’t want to wait for this hearing to be scheduled please contact a bail bondsman to inquire about partial payment plans. Typically, you will be asked to sign a promissory note to guarantee the balance of the fee owed. If the bond is large or the promissory isn’t highly qualified the bondsman may ask for collateral in the form of a car title, mortgage deed or other real property.

*** Please note that if you co-sign on any promissory note you can and will be sued if you default on the agreed upon payment schedule and may be at risk for losing title to your tangible property that you put up for collateral. ***

Recent changes in the Florida legislature have allowed for judges to order fines and court costs to be taken from the cash deposit on bonds posted. A cash bond could be posted and have some or that entire bond be applied to past due amounts and the accused not being released. The Alachua County Jail also accepts bail bondsmen to post bond for a cash bond for either 10% of the amount or if under $1,000, for a flat fee of $100.

Before you become an indemnitor on a bail bond, you should know what your responsibilities include. Being an indemnitor is not like vouching for someone’s character. It is a legally binding contract that carries significant financial liability. You are financially responsible until the accused has appeared at all their hearings and is officially adjudicated by the legal system. Bail Bonds are all NON-REFUNDABLE.

First, when the accused is released on a bail bond and then fails to appear in court, the bail agent has 60 days to return the accused to custody. If the accused cannot be returned to jail within that time period, the bondsman is legally obligated to pay the full amount of the bond to the clerk of the court; this process is called “Bond Forfeiture”. Once this happens, the “indemnitor” becomes liable to the bail bondsman for the amount forfeited. The agent has up to 2 years to return the accused to custody and receive all or a percentage of the forfeited money back.

If the “indemnitor” on a bail bond feels like the accused has become a risk to leave the jurisdiction where the charge was and/or not go to court, the bail bondsman has the power to revoke that person’s bond and return them to custody. After the accused is returned to jail, the “indemnitor’s” liability is over.