Responsibilities Involved in Signing a Bail Bond Contract (Responsible Persons Under a Bail Bond Contract)

collateralUnderstanding the terms of a bail contract is not always easy or simple for everyone. It seems simple to say that there are two parties to the contract, although technically there are often three or four: the court, the bail bondsman, the defendant, and a third party willing to help out the defendant. But of course, they are hardly ever referred to in those terms. Instead, what we have are a bunch of legal terms you may not completely understand.

The important thing to understand is that all the parties to a bail bond contract have certain rights and responsibilities that arise from the contract or agreement. And because these rights or obligations are standard for most bail bond contracts, the different parties are referred to in standard terms. Standard, because each “personality” signing a bail contract already has a set of obligations which are defined by their title under the contract.

So, for instance, the following signatories to a bail bond contract also have the following duties and obligations, subject to the specific language outlined in the contract:

The Obligee

The recipient of an obligation is called the obligee, and in this case, the obligation of paying the amount of bail is owed to the court. The court, therefore, is sometimes also referred to as the obligee in bail bond contracts.

The Surety

agreementThe Surety is the person who puts up the surety bond. A surety bond is a bond issued by the bail bondsman to guarantee the obligations of the principal. In case the Principal defaults, the Surety is binding himself to be held responsible for it.

So, in the instance of bail, the bail bondsman will put up a surety bond in court guaranteeing that the principal or the defendant will deliver on his responsibilities under the bail, which is minimally to show up for court. The court believes the surety because the surety puts up a monetary value for this guaranty. Should the defendant break his obligations under bail, or does not appear during his trial, the court will satisfy itself with the bond that the surety has delivered to them for this very purpose.

But because the surety is not the principal in this obligation, the surety will also have recourse against the primary responsible party, the bailee, principal, or the defendant. All three terms essentially still refer to the same person.

The Principal

The Principal is the term used to refer to the defendant or the bailee, and “principal” is the term used because he or she is the person who is primarily responsible for the amount payable to the obligee, or the court. It is the defendant being charged with the criminal case who has the obligation to pay bail in exchange for the right to be released from prison. Between the bail bondsman and the defendant, it is still the latter who has the primary responsibility for the bail amount, even though it is the bail bondsman who issues the surety bond. If the defendant should default and skips bail, the court may forfeit the surety bond, but the bail bondsman can still go after the defendant for the amount forfeited. The defendant is the principal in this obligation, and it is he or she, ultimately, who bears responsibility for paying the bail amount.

The Indemnitor

Sometimes the bail bondsman will ask the defendant or the principal for collateral for additional security. The condition here is that should the defendant break the conditions of bail and does not show up for court, and the surety bond is forfeited by the court, the bail bondsman can automatically proceed against the collateral to satisfy the defendant’s indebtedness.

Collateral is any property or possession whose value would be considered sufficient security for a surety bond in the amount of the bail. For instance, if bail is set at $1,000, then the collateral should have a value equivalent to or exceeding $1,000. If the surety bond is forfeited by the court, the bail bondsman has additional security in the form of the collateral.

Sometimes, however, the defendant simply does not have any sufficient collateral. He can still enter into a contract with the bail bondsman, however, if a third party is willing to put up the collateral for him. Then it becomes a three-way agreement. This third party who acts as a surety for the defendant to the bail bondsman, and who provides the needed collateral, is called an indemnitor.

Being an indemnitor is not a role that anybody should enter into lightly because the amount of responsibility that comes with this role is no small thing. The indemnitor is required to put up collateral on behalf of the defendant, and if the defendant should skip bail, then the court proceeds against the surety bond of the bail bondsman. But the bail bondsman can also proceed against the collateral put up by the indemnitor.

Essentially, being an indemnitor means that you are taking upon yourself the financial responsibility of the defendant or the principal if he or she breaks the conditions of bail.

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