A career that few people know very much about, being a bail bondsman could be just the type of job you’ve been looking for through the years. Working with the court system, you would be dealing with a wide variety of clients and cases, meaning no two days would be alike. However, before you decide to give it a try, there are a few things you will need to know first.
What do Bondsmen Do?
When someone is placed in jail for a crime, depending on the offense, they may be released from jail in exchange for a set amount of money called bail. These funds are held by the court until the court appearance. If the defendant appears in court at the appointed date and time, then the bail is returned to the person who posted it. If they fail to appear in court, then the court requires 90% of the bail to be paid. Depending on the court and the seriousness of the crime they are accused of, bail costs $10,000 or more. If the person in jail can’t afford to pay for bail, then they can work with a bail bondsman. The defendant pays the bail bondsman 10% of the bail and then the agent or a bail bond corporation can provide the remaining money to the courts on their behalf. In return for posting bail, a 10% cash fee to the bondsman after the court appearance.
Meeting the Minimum Requirements
While specific minimum requirements can vary by state, there are some that are pretty basic across the board. Generally, you’ll need to be at least 18 years old, be a high school or GED graduate, and have a valid driver’s license. If you have prior felony convictions or have other related violations, this may prevent you from becoming a bondsman. Most agencies are looking for people that can prove to be reliable and are willing to work at strange times of the day or night. Most people will work with an agency or bail bonds corporation until they get some experience under their belts to start their own business. This experience is not a requirement by law in most states but it is highly recommended since there is a lot of risks involved with posting bail.
It’s Hard Work
Yes, being a bail bondsman is hard work. Once you’ve taken your initial classes, passed your state’s exam, and obtained your bondsman’s license, you will need to complete continuing education requirements and license renewal obligations to stay in business. From going to local courthouses and jails to even pursuing fugitives, a bail bondsman is often working long hours and with people that can be challenging to work with. Additionally, you’ll need to work with marketing companies and public relations companies to make your business known for providing bail. That way, when someone is in need of bail, their attorneys or family and friends will recommend your bail bonds business to them. If you are a bondsman but no one knows you exist, they won’t be able to call on you when they need help.
You Could Lose Lots of Money
Being a bail bondsman can be a lucrative career. For example, you get a commission for every bond that is posted, as long as the defendant appears in court like they are supposed to. This commission is typically 10% cash, which can be very substantial. While you can make plenty of money as a bondsman, you also run the risk of losing lots of money as well. Remember that when a person posts bail, they pay you 10% of the total bail amount, which is non-refundable to the client. However, you pay the full amount to the court. The 90% that you pay to the court will be refunded if your client appears at the court at the date and time required. Should your client skip out on you before their court date, you have to pay the entire amount to the court. This means that you could be paying thousands of dollars to the court.
You Can Be Your Own Boss
Along with getting to work closely with the criminal justice system, becoming a bondsman gives you the chance to be your own boss. A job that offers plenty of flexibility, you can set your own hours, work at it part or full-time, and even hire other people to do various tasks related to your business, freeing you up to work more closely with clients. Additionally, you have the choice of whether or not you want to provide bail for the person who needs it. You are not required to agree or post bail for anyone that contacts you so you can focus on a specific type of clientele if you want to.
It’s Not What You See on Television
Finally, being a bail bondsman will probably not be nearly as exciting and fast-paced as what you’ve seen on television over the years. While you may work with private detectives or police now and then, don’t expect to be shot at or always spend your time at the mansion of a millionaire.
If you invest your time and money into becoming a bail bondsman, you will immediately become an important businessperson within your community. Along with helping others navigate difficult situations, you’ll be able to make a living doing something you truly enjoy.