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The role of the bail bondsman in a federal court

Unknown to the common man a bail bondsman has an entirely different agenda when a case reaches a federal court. It is something unlike what you observe in a state court. First of all the federal court has a different take on bail bonds, something different from the state court. Usually the surety will be a responsible and reliable third party who furnishes a Signature Bond that is something like an unsecured promissory note. The other type of bond is the property bond which secures the collateral of the defendant’s property or that of the third party offering to execute the bail bond. By property we mean that the majority of cases involve securing real estate for guaranteeing bail bonds.

Naturally, the process of furnishing a property bail bond is not an easy one. It is highly technical and involves many stages. There is a current appraisal system to assess the value of the property. There will be a lot book recording the report emanating from the title company, and the title documents and related papers will need to be notarized and filed at the county recorder’s office. Every step needs to be taken methodically without missing out relevant details.

Federal criminal defense attorneys state without hesitation that the federal bail bonding process assumes many complications and it requires the combined expertise and professionalism of regular and experienced bail bondsmen to grapple with the technicalities.

The process of determination of bail amounts by the federal court

Broadly there are two methods of appearing in a federal court, the first of which is to be brought to court through a summons. In such cases your criminal defense attorney would already have finalized a resolution of your case before indictment, and spared the efforts to arrange in advance the bond money with the office of the U.S. Attorney, and possibly also coordinated with the court to finalize the date of your appearance. If the office of the U.S. Attorney finalizes the amount, you can straight away formalize the appraisal report and related documents, enabling the bondsman to post the bail bond without further delay.


The other scenario is when you are arrested and produced in a federal court before the federal magistrate judge. The magistrate has to be fully satisfied that the defendant does not pose a flight risk and also that the defendant will not pose a threat to society. Flight risk factors are assessed based on considerations such as the length of your stay in the community, what ties you have developed and nurtured with the community, your employment situation, whether you possess a criminal record, past appearances in courts and whether you abided by bail protocol, whether your activities involve traveling, and if you possess a passport. The judge will note particularly if there is a failure to keep up with court appearances and bail jumping, and also if you have used aliases at any time in the past.

Financial status of the defendant/ co-signer

The next priority for the court is to assess whether the defendant has financial standing and commensurate resources. It is not necessary that only the defendant can post bail on the collateral of property. Any third party can post bail on behalf of the defendant and leverage properties standing in their names which may not be associated with the defendant in any manner. The court will take cognizance as long as the property is verifiable and has value or equity.

Judges are very careful in screening defendants’ past records and the pending criminal charges to satisfy themselves that the accused will not pose any threat to society at large, a witness in particular or any third party associated with the case. If there is imminent danger, the likelihood of the defendant being released on bail takes a toss.

Sometimes, on the written assurance of a third party of known standing and reputation, the court may release the defendant till bail processing is completed and the property bond is posted.

Conditionality of federal bail bonds

That conditionality will be imposed on the defendant in granting bail can be taken for granted in most cases. The courts will set conditions that will have to be followed by the defendant. Many of these conditions involve compulsory participation in pre-trial services, and this could be very much like remaining on probation till a trial is initiated. Normally, one is confined to the district in which the court is located and it may also be stipulated that you stay away from airports, train terminals, bus terminals and harbors, and surrender your passport to the court. Any move to leave the district will need prior permission of the court, and movement without intimation to the court will be considered as a violation of bail conditions and result in forfeiting the bail bond money.

The federal judge may exercise his discretion in adding a “Nebbia requirement” for executing the bail bond. Basically this requires that the both defendant and co-signers executing the bail bond prove that their monies, premium and collateral originate from legitimate sources. This is the reason why you need a good competent bail bondsman that is familiar with handling Nebbia orders, and who is an expert in financial analysis and can prepare a flawless Nebbia Proffer that the prosecution will accept.

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