Your Complete Source for the Bail Bond Process in Louisiana
This guide is all that is needed to understand the bail bond process in Louisiana. It was written by Carl Barkemeyer, a criminal defense attorney in Louisiana who has handled thousands of bond issues for clients over the past 18 years. He works on bail matters every day while defending his clients. This guide is designed to help those who are concerned with a loved one in jail as well as other attorneys learning about how bail works in Louisiana. Many websites that provide information on bail bonds in Louisiana are actually out-of-state and are simply directories to funnel clients to bondsmen. On the other hand, this page is for informational purposes only.
Let’s Discuss Louisiana Bail Bond
Quite often on the news, we hear about someone being granted bail in court. You might have even come across or read about an agent involved in bail bonds. If you’ve never needed one, you may not be interested in knowing how bail bonds work. But if perhaps you have a family member or someone dear to you in jail, understanding how a bail bond works, the procedures involved, the conditions, and every other thing will suddenly become necessary.
Currently, in the United States, there are close to 15,000 bondsmen. And according to reports, an annual turnover of $14 billion is made in bonds. Across some states in the US, bail bondsmen and bail recovery agents (commonly known as bounty hunters) are categorized together as bail agents. However, the most portrayed of the two is certainly the bail bondsmen. The difference between these two agents is that bail bondsmen are hired by the person in jail or someone who cares, to help provide the fund or the equivalent collateral, in a situation whereby the bail amount cannot be paid. On the other hand, bail recovery agents are meant to track down and arrest defendants who fail to appear in court.
Understanding Bail, Bond, and Bail Bondsmen
Bail, Bond, and Bail bondsmen are the three main terminologies in bail bonds. Therefore, before going into details on how Louisiana bail bonds work and the procedure you will definitely have to go through, it is necessary to dissect the basic terms.
Bail is an amount of money to be paid by a defendant as a guarantee that they will surely return to court when necessary. Bail amount is not always fixed. It is set by the judge, depending on the chances of the defendant to turn up when needed in court. That means the lower the chance of turning up on the court date, the higher the bail amount. The purpose of bail is just to make sure that the defendant doesn’t flee after release, ahead of the court trial date.
Bond (or bail bond) can be described as a surety bond or insurance contract that serves as an equivalent to the bail amount requested by the court. Due to the fact that bail amounts are usually high, and most defendants cannot afford to pay it in cash, they rather post a bail bond through a bail bondsman instead. When setting a bail amount, judges use instinct to determine the amount that will be difficult for a defendant to forfeit.
Bail bondsmen are licensed agents who understand the legal procedures in bail bonds. They help secure bail, whether in cash or bond. While the defendant is in jail, a bail bondsman can help get the cash or the back up of an insurance company.
How Bail Bonds Work in Louisiana
As earlier explained, a bail bond is like an assurance given to the court that a defendant will turn up on court dates. When a defendant is jailed for a crime and a trial date is fixed, it is necessary for the defendant to prepare prior to the trial, get in touch with their family, and do other important things. But all these cannot be done in jail. The court definitely understands this, too. Therefore, after the arrest, the judge set bail, which is expected to be paid in full. Then, the defendant can be bailed out of jail. Failure to pay the bail amount means the defendant won’t be released until the court date.
Although the general fear is that bail amounts are usually high and inconvenient for the defendant to pay, there are situations whereby it can be reduced. The bail amount may be reduced based on the criminal record of the defendant and the professionalism of the defense attorney, to prove to the court that the defendant will definitely be available on the court date.
Now, if the defendant can pay the bail amount in full, the family can post it to the court, and the release will be made. But if not, the best thing the defendant can do is to seek the service of a professional bail bondsman like Attorney Carl Barkemeyer, who understands the rudiments of bail bonds and legal procedures. This, however, is to be done by a friend or the family, since the defendant would still be in jail.
As a friend or family of the defendant, when you hire a bail bondsman, you will need to provide necessary information like…
- the bail amount to keep the bail bondsman informed on the amount needed
- where the person is in custody and the name of the jail the person is being detained
- the full name of the defendant (and other necessary information requested)
After a deal has been agreed upon, it now becomes the duty of the hired bail bondsman to provide a surety bond to the court for the release of the defendant. The defendant may then convince a surety company that his client is qualified for a bond. And for a bond to be granted, the surety company will demand properties they evaluate to be equivalent to the amount needed, as collateral.
However, things could get very dangerous if it happens that the defendant fails to turn up on the court date. This could lead to a situation whereby the bail bondsman arrests the defendant and the properties serving as collateral will have to be surrendered. If the bail amount was paid in cash, it will be forfeited. And it is, in fact, a crime to be absent on a court date.
Hiring a Professional Bail Bondsman
Legal proceedings on bail bonds can be very easy if you call a professional bail bondsman. Attorney Carl Barkemeyer is a licensed criminal defense attorney in Louisiana who has been helping out his clients on any bond-related issue for over 18 years. He has handled various types of bond cases in Louisiana, and he’s reputed as a defense attorney who delivers quality service for the freedom of his clients.
Are you charged with a crime? Or is someone dear to you in need of a bail bondsman? The Barkemeyer Law Firm can direct you to hiring a professional bondsman in Louisiana.
Bail Questions and Answers
What is the difference between bail and bond?
Bail is the amount set by a judge which is required to be deposited and ensures the defendant’s appearance in court. Therefore, the higher risk that the defendant could flee and never show to court, the higher the bail amount because if someone is willing to pay more, they must feel confident the defendant will appear in court.
Bonds are insurance contracts used to promise to pay the bail amount if the defendant does not appear. If the defendant and/or his family cannot afford to put up cash for bail, they may be able to hire a bondsman who contracts with an insurance company which becomes the commercial surety. The insurance company agrees to reimburse the court for the bail if the defendant does not appear.
Can bail bondsman arrest you?
If the bondsman posts your bond, he is the agent for the commercial surety and has an interest in you appearing in court. If you don’t appear, he can arrest you and bring you in to surrender on the bond which allows the bondsman to get off the bond.
Can bail bondsman garnish wages?
No. The only way a bondsman could garnish wages is by having an order from a court requiring the garnishment. This order to garnish wages is obtained after a lawsuit is filed and won in court.
Can bail bond be refunded?
Not unless the bondsman is willing to refund it. However, the bondsman probably will not. It is usually made clear to the indemnitor that the bond fee is non-refundable regardless if the charges are dismissed or the defendant is not prosecuted.
Can bail bonds take your taxes?
The bail bondsman cannot take your tax refund unless he has filed suit against you and obtained a judgement. This might happen if you are the indemnitor or signer on a bond for an arrestee, and you fail to make your payments to the bondsman. He may file suit against you according to your default on the contract between the two of you.
Can a bail bond be revoked?
The judge can revoke a bond. It happens all the time. If the defendant does not appear to court. The matter could be set for bond forfeiture hearing six months after notice of the bench warrant goes out. The judge could also revoke the bond simply for the defendant’s failure to abide by bond conditions such as staying away from the victim, installing the ignition interlock device, remaining drug and alcohol free, and remaining arrest free. Usually, a new charge while out on bond can get a bond revoked.
Can’t afford bail bond. What now?
If you can’t afford a bail bond, then you could contact a criminal defense attorney to see if he can get the bail reduced to a number you could afford. Whether the judge is willing to reduce the bail depends on many factors. The judge may consider the following during a bail reduction hearing:
(1) The criminal history of the defendant.
(2) The nature and seriousness of the danger to any other person or the community that would be posed by the defendant’s release.
(3) Documented history or records of substance abuse by the defendant
(4) The seriousness of the offense charged and the weight of the evidence against the defendant.
(5) The risk that the defendant might flee.
Can a bail bond be revoked for non-payment?
No. The bail agent cannot just revoke the bond because the indemnitor or defendant hasn’t been making payments to the bondsman for the bond fees. The bond agent would have to bring the indemnitor to court after filing a lawsuit for violating the contract. This could happen. This could lead to the indemnitor having to pay additional court fees and possibly attorney fees if provided in the contract. So, pay your obligations to your bondsman.
Can a bail bond be reduced?
Yes, bail reductions must be approved by the judge. To get that done, you need to hire a criminal defense attorney to contact the judge. The judge will need a good reason to reduce the bail amount since he is likely the one who already looked at the case and set the bail at that amount. In some cases, the judge may want to have a full-blown adversarial hearing in court with the prosecutor there so he can make an argument against the bail reduction. This can even result in an increase in the bail amount. Therefore, an experienced defense attorney will help you navigate this issue and determine if seeking a bail reduction is best. Many times, the attorney can get it reduced if there are good facts or circumstances that he can present to the judge that the judge may not have been aware of when he first set the bail.
Can a bail bond be discharged?
The bail bond will be discharged in Louisiana after the defendant is sentenced and/or placed on probation. Also, the bond can be discharged after the case is dismissed. Therefore, the indemnitor is no longer on the hook for the bond and the defendant is no longer under the conditions of the bond.
Can cosigner revoke bail bond?
No. The cosigner signed a contract agreeing to be an indemnitor. He has agreed to pay the bail amount if the defendant doesn’t appear to court. He has agreed to indemnify the bail bondsman because the bondsman is the first one required to pay the court. If the bondsman pays, he will seek to be indemnified or reimbursed by the cosigners. Only the bondsman could let a cosigner out of the contract. However, there really is no reason he would do that.
Can bail bondsman revoke bond?
The bondsman cannot revoke a bond. He must make a motion to the court to be released from a bond. The judge must authorize it. It will usually be because the defendant did not comply with conditions of bond or absconded. The bond agent will attempt to surrender on the bond which is get off the bond. If that happens, the bond will be revoked and the defendant would need to post a new bond if the judge will even allow a bond. He could hold the defendant without bond at that point.
Can I get bail bond money back?
You cannot get back the bail bond fee of 10-12 % that you paid to the bondsman because that is his fee for putting up the entire amount so you didn’t have to. That agreement is in the contract the indemnitor signed. If a full cash deposit was made to get the defendant out, the entire amount will go back to the person who deposited it after the case is over. It doesn’t go to the defendant. This isn’t technically a bond, rather, a cash deposit. The downside is that the family/friend must let go of more cash up front. The advantage is that he gets it all back later without incurring the 10-12 % bond agent fee.
Can we withdraw bail bond?
This is a serious contract. Once you sign as an indemnitor, you are on the hook with the bail company if you want to keep the bond alive. You cannot withdraw that decision. You can ask to be relived but that could revoke the bond.
Can the attorney post bail bond?
In Louisiana, attorneys are not allowed to bail out their clients. This creates a potential conflict of interest. Imagine if an attorney did this. Later, the defendant is booking a flight to another country. The indemnitor/attorney would want to have the bond revoked and have the defendant surrendered on the bond so he would no longer be on the hook when the defendant doesn’t appear. So, the indemnitor is in a sticky spot. On one hand, it is in his best interest to notify the bail agent or court that the defendant is about to flee. On the other hand, he doesn’t want to do anything that hurts his client, such as getting his bond revoked.