The inmate bonding process varies depending on which state and which county you are in. Local laws and regulations are usually provided on which forms of bail are considered acceptable, where and how bail is to be posted, and how the bonding process works for the release of an inmate.
The amount of the bail, including whatever additional conditions are imposed, are issued by a judge. The Sheriff’s Office usually provides a list of what are acceptable forms of bail, and where bail bonds are accepted, they may also provide a list of which bail bondsmen are duly licensed to operate within the county, although personnel from the Sheriff’s office are prohibited from recommending any one of them in particular.
Other forms of acceptable bond include cash bond, personal recognizance or personal bond, or a surety bond.
A bail bond or surety bond is comprised of an agreement between the defendant and a bail bondsman in which the defendant pays a percentage of the total amount of bail (usually ten percent) in exchange for the bail bondsman putting up a surety bond on their behalf. Aside from carrying a list of pre-approved and licensed bail bondsmen, personnel from the county Sheriff’s offices are usually not involved in the agreement between the defendant and his bail bondsman. This means that the payment of fees and the provision of additional security or collateral are entirely between the two private parties.
The bail bond is posted with the Sheriff’s Office of the county in which the defendant is detained, usually in the county’s jail or correctional facility. Bail bondsmen that have been operating for some time in any particular county are usually not required to post surety for each one of their clients. Often, the local courts and Sheriff’s offices require only a blanket bond that is acceptable as surety from a particular bail bonds agency and will consider this as acceptable for any defendant for whom the bail bondsman acts as surety.
Once bail is posted, the defendant is given a court date during which he is expected to appear in court. There will be no issue if the defendant appears during those court dates. The problem arises if the defendant should abscond and jump bail.
When this happens, the bail is canceled, and a judge will issue a warrant for the arrest of the defendant – now technically considered a fugitive. There may be two arrest warrants, one for the original charge and one for skipping bail. These warrants may be served by the sheriff and his deputies, but because they usually only operate within the county, a bail bondsman may hire a bounty hunter to track down, apprehend, and bring back a defendant to the court’s jurisdiction.