Bail Bond Agents: How To Tell The Good From The Bad

Every once in awhile, a story will pop up in the news about a bail bond agent who was arrested for defrauding clients, operating without a proper bail bond agent license, or some other crime.  How do you know how to trust? How do you know if the bail bond agent you choose is legitimate? How do you know you’re not going to lose your money?

If you receive a call that a loved one is in jail, you’ll obviously want things to move quickly and to get him out of jail as soon as possible.  If you type in “bail bond agents” into your web browser, you’ll get a lot of search results for sure but just because someone has a website, it doesn’t mean they’re on the up-and-up.  It’s important, even though you want to move quickly, to do a little research first.  

A Good Bail Bond Agent

A good bail bond agent will have a professional-looking website.  You’ll be able to look up reviews on them on Yelp or the Better Business Bureau’s website.  On BBB’s site, you’ll also see a rating for them from A to F along with reasons for the rating.  

It’s important that your bail bond agent is properly licensed and a good one will be happy to show you her license.  Many states offer licensing information online; you can look here for licensing in the state of Florida.  

Your bail bond agent should also have an office to do business out of.  They’re not allowed to do their business directly at the jail. They should have plenty of experience in the business.  Just because someone is new to the business it doesn’t mean they’re not legitimate; everyone has to start somewhere. But it’s safer to find an agent who has been working many years getting people out of jail because of their experience and knowledge of the courts in the area.  

A legitimate bail bond agent will charge you no more than 10% (15% for immigration bonds) of the bail amount for the non-refundable premium.    

A Bad Bail Bond Agent

If a bail bond agent refuses to show you his or her license, demands a higher than 10% premium, and doesn’t have a dedicated office for doing business, find another one.  Bad reviews don’t necessarily mean a bond agent is bad but if that’s all they have, it should be a big red flag. Read the reviews and understand why they were given a bad review and see what action they took to rectify the issue.  

Be wary of any bail bond agent that asks for money upfront.  When you decide to work with a bail bond agent, she will sign a contract with you that should clearly state the amount of any payment you’ll need to make in the future.  If there is no contract offered, it could mean that they plan on adding more fees later.  At 1st Knight Bail Bonds, our clients trust us to do things quickly and right.  We can help if you or a loved one has been arrested. We’re available 24/7 to answer any questions you have about the process, about us, and we’ll begin the bail bond process as soon as possible.  Call 1st Knight Bail Bonds today at (727) 538-7727 and we’ll get you back home quickly.

The Holiday Season Means More Crime

The holiday season is in full swing and unfortunately, with all of the joy and festivities comes an increase in crime across the country.  Some of the more common crimes that see an uptick during the holidays are:

Drunk Driving  

With holiday punch flowing at the office Christmas party, a toast of wine at Thanksgiving dinner, and ringing in the New Year with champagne, it’s no wonder that the number of DUI arrests increases during the holiday season.

Shoplifting

During the holidays, stores are filled with crowds of shoppers in search of the perfect gifts for their loved ones which makes it easier for people with sticky fingers to strike. 

Larceny

Crowded stores also make it easier for shippers to have their wallets or purses stolen.  Thieves also look for vehicles filled with gifts to target or after Christmas when people put their garbage out for pick up, thieves love to see which houses just got new TVs.  

Domestic Abuse

Unfortunately, during the holidays there is an increase in domestic abuse and violence between spouses and other family members.

Vandalism

During the holiday season, there is an increase in vandalism across the country.  Whether it’s stealing the baby Jesus from a church’s nativity scene or popping inflatable Santa’s on someone’s lawn, vandals are out in full force.

How to Keep Away From Criminal Activity During the Holidays

No one wants to have their money stolen during the holidays.  Nor do they want to find themselves in a situation that may cause them to be arrested.  Here are a few ways to keep yourself from becoming a victim or getting into trouble during the holiday season. 

  1. Always be alert.  Be aware of your surroundings.  Wear a purse with a strap that goes across your body and keep it closed with its zipper or clasp.  Never put it in your shopping cart. If you carry a wallet, keep it in your front pocket rather than the back.  
  2. If you have to keep gifts in your car, put them in the trunk, out of sight.  If you have don’t have a trunk, cover them with a dark-colored blanket or a jacket.  Always park in well-lit areas. 
  3. Avoid overindulging on alcohol.  If you’re going to drink, make arrangements for a designated driver or Lyft before you go out so you’re not trying to figure out how you’re going to get home after you’ve already had a few drinks.  Also, avoid alcohol when you’re at a gathering that could become contentious.
  4. If you get large items like TVs or computers for Christmas, break down the boxes and put them in bags so passers-by don’t know you’ve got a house of brand new electronic devices.  

If you or a loved one do get into trouble during the holidays, call 1st Knight.  For a non-refundable fee of 10% of the bail amount, 1st Knight can get you out of jail quickly so you can be back home with your loved ones.  Our expert bond agents are available 24/7 to take your call and get started. No one wants to spend the holidays in jail.  If you need a bond agent, call 1st Knight Bail Bonds today at (727) 538-7727. We always answer!

Why It’s Better to Use a Bail Bondsman Instead of Cash

When you’re arrested, you’ll be brought before a judge for a bail hearing and depending on the crime and circumstances, you will likely be allowed to post bail so you can be released and return home.  Bail is designed to incentivize someone who has been arrested and allowed to be released to return to court for their scheduled court dates. If they don’t, the money that they had given the court will be forfeited and a warrant will be issued for their arrest.  For most, it’s a worthwhile incentive.

However, for many people, bail is simply too much money.  This is why we have bail bond agents, to allow more people to be released from jail while awaiting trial.  For a 10% non-refundable premium, a bondsman will get you out of jail and back home to your loved ones.  

A bail bond agent can be used whether or not you have the cash to pay the full amount of the bail.  Should you? Even if you have enough cash, should you use a bail bond agent to post a bond?

Yes.  For several reasons.

Your cash will be used for fees.

Before your bail money is returned to you, the court will most likely take money for court costs and any fees that may have been accrued.  Because a bond cannot be used for anything other than securing bail, nothing can be paid for with it and this will also make it easier to set up installment payments with the court to pay court costs and fees.

It could cost you a court-appointed lawyer.

If you put up cash for bail, it may be more difficult to prove that you can’t afford a lawyer and that you need a public defender. 

Risks forfeiture.

Courts are notorious for moving cases from one department to the next without notification.  If you went to the wrong place or you got a flat tire and missed your court appointment, your cash bail would be forfeited.  If you use the services of a bail bond agent, you are more likely to be able to make arrangements (with the help of the bond agent) to appear at a later time without losing money.  

It ties up your money.

If you pay cash for your bail, you won’t be able to access that money until after the trial.  If you or your family need the money before then to pay bills, they’re out of luck.

It’s more discreet.

If you post cash for your bail, it all becomes a matter of public record.  If you use a bail bond agency instead, the agent pays bail with a bond on your behalf.
At 1st Knight Bail Bonds, our fully-licensed agents understand that you’re going through a stressful time and will guide you through the entire bond process from start to finish.  They’ll get your loved one out of jail and back home as quickly as possible. If you or a loved one is in jail, call 1st Knight now at (727)538-7727.  We’re open 24/7 to help you.

Bail Schedules and Algorithms: Are They Fair?

When you’ve been arrested, you will be brought before a judge who will determine whether or not to allow you to post bail and be released while awaiting your trial.  Being allowed to post bail is not a right; it is up to the discretion of the judge who will consider many factors before making a decision. 

What a Judge Considers

When you are brought before a judge, he or she will try to determine whether you are a flight risk (looking at your country of origin, wealth, community ties, employment status), the severity of the charges (nature of the crime), whether you are deemed a threat (criminal history, repeat offender, may cause harm to self, threat to witnesses of the crime) and whether or not you are in the U.S. legally.  If you are not here legally, you will be held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Although judges mainly set bail for those charged with a crime, many jurisdictions use bail schedules or algorithms because they believe that by taking the human factor out of the decision, a non-biased decision will be made.

Bail Schedules

To simplify things and to eliminate bias, many jurisdictions use bail schedules.  Bail schedules are guides that determine bail for various crimes. There is no national standard for bail schedules and they can vary greatly from one jurisdiction to the next.  Because schedules are merely a guide, judges do maintain discretion to set bail as they see fit. The problem with bail schedules is that the bail amount suggestions vary so greatly―bail for public intoxication in Fresno is $75 but the same crime in Mariposa will get you bail of $10,000.  In some jurisdictions, bail is higher for defendants who don’t live in the jurisdiction than for those who do.    

Bail Algorithms

Some jurisdictions rely on computers to determine bail.  They use algorithms that look at criminal history and other things that a judge would consider and use algorithms to determine bail.  The use of algorithms to set bail has drawn a lot of criticism over the years because they’ve been found to give minorities disproportionate instances of higher bail amounts and the companies who provide the software lack transparency, claiming that their algorithms are proprietary.  While a judge still maintains discretion and makes the final determination for bail amount, relying on algorithms as a guide may result in a biased result.

Despite human biases, judges can be fair in setting bail and make judgments not only on the details of the case and criminal history but they can also judge the person who is standing in front of them.      If you have no criminal history, a steady job, have ties to the community, and didn’t commit a violent crime, you are likely to have bail set but the amount will vary.  If you have been arrested and can’t afford your bail, 1st Knight Bail Bonds can help.  At 1st Knight Bail Bonds, we can get you out of jail quickly after you’ve been arrested.  If a judge allows bail, we can help you. Our expert staff will work diligently to get you out of jail and back home where you belong.  Call us today at (727)538-7727.

The Booking Process: What to Expect

If you’re lucky, you’ve never been arrested and your knowledge of the booking process goes no further than what you’ve seen on television.  But it can happen. You may not think that you’ll ever be arrested but on one can ever say for sure.  

You’re brought to the police station or jail.  What happens next? What can you expect when you’ve been arrested?

They record your info.  Your full name, address, etc. as well as the crime(s) that you were arrested for.

You are photographed.  They take your mugshot and your height.  A mugshot can be helpful to investigators or the defendant depending on the circumstances because it shows your condition when you were arrested.  Were there any marks or scratches that may be important to the case?

They take your personal property.  This includes the clothes you’re wearing.  It will all be given back to you after your trial.  If your clothing is considered evidence, it will be held with other evidence in your case.  They’ll take any illegal items you may have and you won’t get them back. In fact, you’ll probably face further charges if you’re carrying anything illegal when you’re arrested.  

They fingerprint you.  Using a computer, they fingerprint you and add it to the FBI’s national database as a record for the crime for which you were arrested where it can be searched for involvement in any other crimes.  They may also take a hair, saliva, or blood sample for the same purpose.

They search you.  You may have to undergo a full-body search.  They don’t do this for everyone but they have the right to do it if you’ve been arrested and are being put in jail.

They look for warrants.  They check their database to make sure you don’t have any outstanding warrants.  If they find any, you may not be released from jail or you may have to take care of any fines first.  

They give you a physical exam.  They need to make sure you don’t need medical attention.  They also need to check you for any communicable diseases that could endanger the rest of the prison or jail population.

You go to jail.

While you are being booked for a crime, you should be polite and cooperative.  This does not mean you have to answer questions about your case. When you were arrested, you were read your Miranda Rights that included the right to remain silent.  Do that.

Not long after you’ve been booked, you will be brought before a judge to determine whether or not you will be allowed to be released on bail.  If you can’t afford bail, a bail bond agent can help you. For a 10% non-refundable fee, you can be released on bond and return home to your family.

1st Knight Bail Bonds can help if you’ve been arrested.  We’re available 24/7 to answer your call and to begin the bail bond process as soon as possible.  Call 1st Knight Bail Bonds today at (727) 538-7727 and we’ll get you back home quickly.

More and More Women Are Becoming Bail Bond Agents

Once a male-only world, the bail bond industry is quickly becoming a place where more and more women work and thrive.  All over the country, women bail bond agents are shattering the stereotypes that bail bond agents have to be big, burly, intimidating men.  

And why not?  Women hold many of the characteristics that make a good bail bond agent.  It used to be that being a bond agent wasn’t thought of as a “woman’s” job because women are thought of as the caretakers of the children and the 24/7 availability was considered troublesome.  But it’s the fact that women often are the caretakers that makes them perfect for the bail bond industry.  Women can be tough, strong, and persistent one minute and understanding, thoughtful the next.  They can have determination, be organized, and treat people with dignity and respect.      

What does a bail bond agent do?

Most people probably know that bail bond agents get people out of jail after they’ve been arrested but unless being arrested is something they’ve experienced themselves, they probably know little more than that.  Bail bond agents have a variety of duties.  

It’s never a dull moment when you’re a bail bond agent.  One day could be spent in the office answering a phone that’s ringing off the hook and could spend the next helping clients at the local jail or courthouse.  Some days will be spent reminding clients of impending court appearances, while on others they’ll be busy trying to track down a client who skipped town. Because people aren’t only arrested between the hours of 9:00 and 5:00, a bond agent’s hours are varied which can make it easier to work as few or as many hours as they want.

Requirements

You have to 18-years-old to become a bail bond agent and also must have a high school diploma or G.E.D.   To begin, you must go through training and pass a licensing exam. After passing the exam, you can apply for your state license to become a bail bond agent and join a bail bond company and start your rewarding career in the industry. 

Rewards

Whether you’re a man or a woman, if you’re willing to put in the time and do the work, a job as a bail bond agent can be a lucrative career choice. In a downturned economy, the job market suffers.  People get laid off and jobs become scarce but not in the bail bond industry. People commit crimes in a good economy or bad so a job in the bail bond industry can be a steady gig.    

By being a bail bond agent, you’re helping people. It’s one of the most rewarding aspects of the job.  People make mistakes and sometimes, they just need a little help to get back on track.

Becoming a bail bond agent won’t be easy.  Even though women are joining this thriving industry, it’s still a predominantly male workforce.  To be successful, you’ll have to prove you’re meant to be there and that you can do the job as well, if not better, than they can.  And you can!1st Knight Bail Bonds is a full-service bail bond agency serving Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Pasco Counties.  We accept all kinds of bonds so if you’re in need of a bail bond agent that can get you out of jail fast, call 1st Knight Bail Bonds at (727)538-7727.  We’re available 24/7 so we always answer!

Hiring a Legitimate Bail Bond Agent

A loved one has been arrested and is calling you for help.  You want to help him so you start searching online of a bail bond agent but you quickly become overwhelmed.  How do you pick one? How do you know if you’re making the right choice? How do you know if a bail bond agent is legitimate?

You’re wise to be cautious.  There have been bail bond agents who were unlicensed or dishonest.  You just want to get your loved one out of jail and not get conned in the process.

Here are ways to make sure your bail bond agent is legitimate:

Check their license.  Make sure they’re fully licensed in your state.  In the state of Florida, you can search here and in other states, look for your state’s insurance division website.  If you find that they’re not licensed, keep looking.  

Check the BBB.  If you look them up on the Better Business Bureau’s website, you should find a rating and there may also be a list of complaints if any were filed along with resolutions to those complaints.

Check their reviews.  Look at sites like Yelp for reviews.  Of course, reviews should be taken with a grain of salt because anyone can write them but you should be able to get an overall view from people who like or dislike their work.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, meet with them.  

See if they have an office.   A legitimate bail bond agent will have an office to do their business from.  If they don’t, cross them off the list.

Ask how much they charge.  They should be charging 10% of the amount of the bail.  If they ask for more, you’re being overcharged. (Immigration bonds may be a higher rate.)

Ask about their experience.  It’s best to choose a bail bond agent that has a lot of experience getting people out of jail.  An experienced bond agent will be able to wisely guide you through the entire process.  

Get details about their contract.  They should have a standard contract that shows you their terms and how much you will pay.  If they don’t, they may try to add on extra fees later. You should only be charged the premium and any court fees or fines will be charged by the court at the end of your trial, not through your bond agent.

Ask your lawyer.  If you or your loved one has a lawyer, ask the lawyer if they are familiar with the bond agent you’re considering.  You could even ask them to recommend one to you.  

Trust your gut.  When you meet with a bail bond agent, listen to your gut.  If you get a bad feeling about them, trust your instincts.

At 1st Knight Bail Bonds, our fully-licensed agents are not only trustworthy but they also understand that you’re going through a stressful time and will guide you through the bond process.  They’ll get your loved one out of jail and back home as quickly as possible. If you or a loved one is in jail, call 1st Knight now at (727)538-7727.  We’re open 24/7 to help you.

What Happens When Bail is Denied?

Bail was established as a way of allowing defendants to remain out of jail while they await their trial.  It not only helps alleviate prison overcrowding, but it also allows defendants to continue to work a job, provide for family, and be a productive member of society before they go on trial.     

How Bail Works

When a person has been arrested for a crime, he will have a bail hearing to determine whether or not the court will offer bail as an option.  Depending on the crime and criminal history, the defendant may be allowed to be released on his own recognizance which means he won’t have to pay bail but is still expected to show up for all upcoming court dates.  

If bail is set, the defendant will have to pay the full amount or arrange for a bond with a bail bond agent before being released from jail.

Why Bail May Be Denied

The court may decide that bail shouldn’t be allowed and the defendant will have to remain in jail until his court date.  There are many factors that go into this decision.

The Defendant is a Flight Risk

If the defendant has few ties to the community such as no family and no job, has a lot of money and resources, or has skipped out on bail before, the court may feel that it’s too much of a risk to let the defendant out of jail because it’s unlikely the defendant would show up in court if they did.  If the defendant is not a U.S. citizen, he would be considered a flight risk and may not only have bail denied, but he may be deported back to his country of origin.

The Crime was Severe

For crimes that are particularly violent and severe like murder, rape, assault, etc., the defendant will be denied bail because it would put people at risk if the defendant were released into society.  Severe crimes carry long sentences, life in prison without the possibility of parole, and even the death penalty, all of which decrease the likelihood that the defendant will show up for their trial.

The Defendant is a Repeat Offender

If the defendant is a repeat offender, the court  may assume that he will continue to commit crimes while out on bail and deny bail altogether.

The Defendant is on Parole or Probation

One of the conditions of being out on parole, probation, or bail is that the defendant doesn’t commit further crimes.  If the defendant does commit another crime, he will most likely have these privileges revoked and returned to jail.  

When Bail is Denied

If you’ve been arrested and denied bail, you will have to go to jail until your next trial date.  If you do not have a lawyer, this would be a good time to get one. A lawyer can help you appeal the bail decision to a higher court, and you can offer an argument with reasons why you are not a flight risk or a danger to society.  

If you plead or are found guilty, any time that you spent in jail awaiting trial will be credited to you as time served.  
At 1st Knight Bail Bonds, we can get you out of jail quickly after you’ve been arrested.  If a judge allows bail, we can help you. Our expert staff will work diligently to get you out of jail and back home where you belong.  Call us today at (727)538-7727.

Judge or Jury Trial

We’ve all seen crime dramas where the defense attorney paces in front of 12 jurors, eloquently laying out reasons for her client’s innocence. In reality, cases are usually settled between attorneys before they go to trial.  Those that do go trial aren’t always tried in front of a jury and are instead heard and decided by a single judge. But which is better? Would a judge or jury trial be more beneficial to you?

Bench Trial

A bench trial is one that is heard and decided by a judge.  Overall, bench trials tend to take less time. The process of selecting jurors for a trial can add a lot of time to a trial whereas with a bench trial, you can get started right away.  Nor do they have opening and closing statements which can take up a lot of time during a trial. If you’re planning on defending yourself, a bench trial is usually more beneficial. There are a lot of rules to follow in court and a judge may be understanding of the fact that you’re not experienced those rules and overlook them or give you a little guidance.  

  Judges are better at understanding complex legal issues than juries, so if your case is complicated, a judge may work more to your benefit.  

Jury Trial

Judges mainly want to hear the facts of the case and make their decision.  Juries, on the other hand, want to hear your story. They have more empathy and want to understand who you are before they decide your guilt or innocence.  They usually are made up of 12 people with 2 alternates. Jury trials are usually more time-consuming because there must be jury selection, open and closing statements, and stricter adherence to all of the rules and procedures that are supposed to be followed during a trail.

It may be helpful to know a little about the judge that’s hearing your case before you decide whether a bench or jury trial will be best.  Some judges may tend to lean one way or the other when it comes to your particular alleged crime, so you should ask your attorney if he or she knows about the judge’s previous decisions before making a choice.  Your attorney should be experienced with both jury and bench trials and should be able to advise you on which would bring the best outcome in your case.    

However, it may not be your choice whether or not you have a jury trial.  Crimes that carry a jail term of 6 months or less or imposes less than a $5,000 fine usually aren’t given the option of a jury trial and a judge will decide your case. If a jury trial is allowed but you prefer a bench trial, you must request it in writing and the court must approve it. If you’ve been arrested, 1st Knight Bail Bonds is here to help.  For a non-refundable fee of 10%, our expert bond agents can get you out of jail and back home as quickly as possible.  We always treat our clients with respect and we always answer our calls. Call 1st Knight today at (727)538-7727 and you’ll be home before you know it.

What If I Miss My Court Date?

Bail is used as a way for someone who’s been arrested for a crime to avoid staying in jail while they await their trial.  It allows the defendant to continue to work a job, be with family, and remain a productive member of society while it also provides a monetary incentive for the defendant to show up for scheduled court dates.  It curbs prison overcrowding, lets innocent people avoid jail time, and allows people arrested of minor crimes to avoid being put in jail with violent criminals. The bail system is an across-the-board win.

But what happens if you miss your scheduled court appearance?   

What Happens

Missing court is a serious offense.  You’ve made a legal agreement with the court and you failed to do your part.  Once you’ve missed your court date, the court will issue a bench warrant for you and your information will be put into a database which police are able to search.  This means that if you are stopped by police for even a minor traffic infraction, the warrant will pop up when they look up your license or your name in the system.  You will be arrested on the spot for having an outstanding warrant and this time, your original bail will most likely be revoked and you’ll have to remain in jail until your trial.  If you were arrested for a more serious crime, a criminal warrant may be issued which means there would be an active search for you.  

If the reason for missing your court date was due to a death in your immediate family, you were in a car accident on your way to court, or you had a serious illness and can prove any of it, the judge may be sympathetic and not revoke your original bail. 

What You Should Do

Call your lawyer or the court clerk if you knew ahead of time that you’ll be unable to be there.  If you’re incapacitated, have a family member or friend do it. If you don’t have a serious reason for not being able to show, they’ll deny your request for a rescheduled date.  Even if you have a good excuse, there’s no guarantee that they’ll accept the request. It’s up to the judge. It does, however, show that you’re trying to work things out and you’re not just ignoring the situation.

If you already missed it, call the court clerk and find out if there has been a bench warrant issued for you.  Even if there hasn’t been one, call your lawyer about making arrangements to turn yourself in for a hearing. Again, this shows that you’re taking it seriously.  If you’re lucky, the judge won’t revoke bail at this time. 

If the judge does revoke your bail, it means you’ll forfeit your bond and will lose any collateral you put down to cover your bail.  It also means that if you’re arrested again, the judge will think twice before granting bail because of your previous failure to appear charge.  There may also be fines and loss of your driver’s license.

By acting quickly after you missed your court date and calling your lawyer and your bail bond agent, you may be able to avoid having your bail revoked, and sometimes, even if it is, you can make arrangements so you won’t lose your collateral.

The best way to avoid any of these problems is by not missing your appearances in court.  Check the times as well as the dates and set reminders on your phone. Tell friends or family members so they can remind you.  Ask your bail bond agent to remind you. Sometimes they’ll even give you a ride to court. They don’t want you to miss your dates either!At 1st Knight Bail Bonds, our bond agents will work quickly to get you out of jail and our expert staff can help you through the entire bail bond process, ensuring that you know exactly when and where you need to be for court.  If you’ve been arrested, call 1st Knight Bail Bonds at (727)538-7727.  We’re here 24/7 and we always answer!