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What do bail bondsmen do?

December 31, 2001

What do bail bondsmen do?



A bail bondsman offers a quick way out of jail for people charged with crimes and assigned a bail bond amount. They can be released at least until their trial date if they pay a bondsman 10 percent of the bond amount set by the court. The court then holds the bondsman responsible for the entire bond amount if the person charged fails to appear for trial.

The Maryland Insurance Administration requires all bail bondsmen to charge a premium fee of 10 percent and bars charging additional fees or interest on premium payments.

The MIA opposed offering premium discounts during a court hearing about the issue several years ago, agency spokeswoman Debbie Rosen McKerrow said.

"We didn't think it was a good idea" because people who pay the full 10 percent up front might be more likely to show up for court because they made a bigger investment, McKerrow said.

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But the court ruled that bail bondsmen can take a premium down payment, or "short money," as long as "down" follows the percentage amount in advertisements, McKerrow said.

"That helps people realize they still do owe the money," she said.

Most bail bondsmen try to collect outstanding bond debts prior to trial dates, Hagerstown bail bondsman Jim Frank said.

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