Mandating Check-Ins for Your Bail Clients
Editor's note: This article was written by industry professional and guest contributor Jason Pollock. The views and opinions in this article are of the author and do not reflect the views of AboutBail. If you are interested in becomeing a guest contributor, send an email to [email protected].
Check-Ins will allow you to keep tabs on your clients while they are still in your custody. The check-in can also be utilized as a gauge to let you know if your client is intent on failing to appear in court. You should effectively communicate to all of your clients that they must report to your bail bonds office after they been released from the jail. I would say that 24-hours is sufficient enough time to report to your office. This will allow your clients to get some much needed rest, some good, home-cooked food, and a nice, hot shower. You might also consider recommending to your clients that they bring their address/phone book with them so that they will have a much easier time supplying contact information on your application for bail. You should have a Check-In Form prepared so that you can keep track of all of your clients check-ins. It would be best for you to prepare a separate form for each client, rather than have a running sheet for all clients. If you have these check-in forms printed up at a copy shop in triplicate, you can put one form in the client’s file, one in your check-in log book, and give one to your client.
Physical Check-Ins, if properly manipulated, can be utilized to assure you that your clients are still in town and have not fled to another location. Depending on your perceived risks, you can have your clients check in once a week, a few days each week, or every single day. In my opinion, this form of check-in should be used for your highest risk clients because you want to ensure that those individuals are still in your area and within your reach.
Telephonic Trap Lines
Telephonic Trap Lines can be utilized for those clients where your perceived risks are lower. There are a number of companies that provide trap line services for a nominal fee. Each client would be issued a unique PIN (Personal Identification Number). This PIN is what tells you who is calling to check in. The phone line should be set up so that all incoming callers must surrender the phone number that they are call you from through utilizing anonymous call rejection. You don’t even have to answer the phone, but at some time each day, you will have to go back through your incoming calls and voicemail messages so that you can record each telephonic check-in into your check-in log book. If a client who has been using the telephonic check-ins does fail to appear in court, you will have a list of phone numbers that the client called you from; which is a great source of investigative leads, because you can turn all of those phone numbers into names and addresses. I would suggest that you use this form of check-in for your medium risk clients, because it does not require much of your time or attention to monitor these individuals, thus freeing up more of yourself to write bail and perform other daily work tasks.
Website Check-Ins can also be effective and more convenient for your lowest-risk clients. If you have a company website, you can set up one of your web pages to be utilized for electronic check-ins. If you set this up properly, your clients will be surrendering their IP Address to you when they check in. In turn, those IP Addresses can be turned into physical addresses, so this is also a great source for leads should one of your clients decide to fail to appear in court. See the following link for an example of how one Bail Bond Company has their website check-in system set up. See the example to the right.
Your lowest risk clients should be afforded the privilege and comfort of the website check in, as it offers them even more discretion from those who they would rather not have knowing that they have been admitted to bail.
Using a Combination of Check-Ins
You can also use combinations of the different forms of check-ins to net more intelligence about your clients. You can use the physical check-in to make sure that your client is still in town, the telephonic check-in to glean intelligence about where the client is calling from, and you can use the website check-ins to determine where the client is located when checking in through the internet.
GPS Monitoring can be an extremely useful tool for checking in on your clients although it is really not a form of having your clients checking in with your bail bond company. As the bail agent, you can set forth terms and conditions within your bail bond contract that specifically limit where your clients may travel to while they are out on your bail bond. For example, you can advise your client that he or she is not permitted to travel outside of his or her home county while released on your bail bond. Requiring your highest-risk clients to wear a G.P.S. ankle bracelet will let you monitor the real-time location of your clients, anytime of the day or night. The location information that these ankle bracelets provide is live and actionable. Therefore, if you receive information from the ankle bracelet that the defendant has traveled outside of his/her home county, then you will have reason to believe that he or she is attempting to flee from your custody and this could quite possibly be the basis for an early surrender, based upon the actions taken by the defendant (breach of contract, violating the terms and conditions of your bail bond conditions of release). This can also indicate that the defendant is intent on failing to appear in court. In my opinion, the greatest power that G.P.S. ankle bracelets provide is deterring clients from jumping bail. They will know that you can monitor their true location and travel history at any time that you choose, which would make locating, apprehending, and surrendering them a rather simple task. It would often curb the need for a protracted investigation geared at locating the defendant. This will help you to greatly discourage your clients from skipping court.
Case in Point:
My bail bond company had bailed out a defendant who had been charged with two counts of trafficking in narcotics. Because of these charges, we were a little concerned about whether or not he was going to appear in court, so we had put him on a physical check-in three times each week. We set up his check-in so that he would appear in our office each Saturday. We did that to discourage him from travelling out of state on the weekends, which we had assumed was the prime time for him to drive to the neighboring state to score drugs and bring them back. Well, as luck would have it, he did fail to appear in court, and we were clued-in to this intent because he quit checking in with our bail bond company, which is when our hunt began. It’s a good thing that we had put him on a check-in, because the court never did mail a forfeiture letter to us. If we didn’t have him on a check-in, we would not have known that he had fled. A check with the United States Postal Service revealed that he had provided them with a mail forwarding address to that neighboring state where we had suspected that he was travelling to in order to pick up his dope. A subsequent surveillance at that address revealed that he didn’t actually live there, he was merely having his mail forwarded there; which made for a rather interesting caper.
When you combine your check-ins with regular status checks with the courts, staying on top of your open liabilities will be a snap. One of the key indicators here is compliance. If your clients do not comply with their check-in agreements, then the odds of your clients making their mandatory appearances in court are slim to none. At that point in time, you will need to seriously consider whether or not you wish to revoke their bail bonds and make an early surrender.
You can have your Check-In forms printed in triplicate, carbonless copies at your local print shop. This will allow you to write up your Check-In agreement once, yet you will still be able to give a copy of the agreement to your client, put one copy in the client’s file and keep one copy in your Check-In Book, without having to make photocopies of the form, which will save you precious time. The Check-In Book is a 3-ring binder that will allow you to maintain all of your current Check-Ins in a well-organized and efficient fashion. The Check-In Book precludes having to hunt through files in a filing cabinet for any specific Check-In form. This type of efficiency will improve your company’s productivity because it will save you precious time.
More on preventing clients from jumping bail
- Information to Collect From Every Bail Applicant
- Information to Collect From Bail Applicant References
- 10 Types of Collateral and Tips to Secure It
Stay tuned for more tips on how you can prevent clients from jumping bail.
About the Author: Jason Pollock received his first glimpse into the mysterious world of Fugitive Recovery as an operator in 1999 and he is now the owner and operator of Surety Risk Management, a professional Bail Enforcement and Risk Management Agency based in Los Angeles, California. Jason has successfully located and apprehended approximately 1,700 “wayward bail clients” during his career as an operator, all with zero post-operation residual liability. He is the former owner of a bail bond company that never paid a single summary judgment to any court and he is currently working on his first book, a project that is now more then ten years in the making. Jason may be contacted at [email protected]
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