Bail bonding agents are intimately involved in many aspects of the criminal justice system. They work with offenders, their families, jails, and the courts and must play many roles, from bonding people out of jail to skip-tracing and being accountable to the courts for their clients. Successful bondsmen must be able to make personal connections with their clients and be willing to help in every way possible, such as helping arrange transportation for court proceedings.
Bail bonding agents must have a current driver's license and reliable transportation and should dress at least semi-professionally to maintain an appropriate image in the courts and with clients. As crime happens 24 hours a day, they should be prepared to be available 24 hours a day; depending on the work environment, there may be other agents who share these responsibilities.
A typical day for those in this position may begin with attending court with a client or reporting to a judge if their client has skipped bail; in these cases, they must assure the court that they will make all necessary efforts to find them. Bail bondsmen may take many calls for potential clients each day, and researching potential clients is a top priority to ensure they are viable risks and there is acceptable collateral. When a client is accepted, the person seeking bail for them will meet with the bondsman, sign all paperwork, and present collateral or tittles on collateral as appropriate.
When collateral is accepted, the bondsman will file liens on the property within a certain period of time, which varies by state and employer. He/she will then go to the jail and speak with the client to ensure they understand what is going on and that they will attend court proceedings. Then, he/she will place bail and guarantee the client's appearance at future court dates. Those in this position may also be responsible for finding clients who do not appear in court at the proper time.
To become a bail bonding agent, also known as a "bail bondsman," one must have a clean criminal record and pass an FBI background check. Some agents may also need to pass proficiency tests, which vary by state.