How to Testify at a Bail Reduction Hearing
- by AboutBail Staff
- Business Tips
There are times when a potential client's bail amount is so high that he and his family cannot pay the premium or provide the necessary collateral. The only way the defendant is going to make bail is for the bail amount to be reduced. As a bondsman, you can help make that happen by providing valuable testimony at the defendant's bail reduction hearing.
In most states, a judge setting bail must consider the defendant's risk of flight and the safety of the public and the alleged victim. The judge should set the bail in an amount sufficient to ensure the defendant's appearance at all court hearings. The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, however, prohibits "excessive bail." Before testifying, you should thoroughly underwrite the bond. You should meet with all indemnitors and, if possible, the defendant. All relevant documents, such as pay stubs, deeds, and mortgages, should be gathered. Finally, you should discuss your testimony with the defendant's lawyer before the hearing. Your testimony should include the following topics:
- Your experience as a bail bondsman. The judge will more likely accept your testimony if he determines you are experienced and professional.
- Your experience performing fugitive recovery work. If the judge believes you are capable of finding and returning the defendant should he become a fugitive, then the judge may lower the bail amount.
- The results of your interview with indemnitors. You should testify about each indemnitor's job, stability, and reputation in the community. These likely will affect the judge's view of the defendant's flight risk.
- Your opinion regarding the defendant's flight risk. Explain to the judge why you think the defendant's flight risk is low - family ties, job, prior case appearances, etc.
- Assets that the indemnitors have to secure a bond. If the judge understands that the defendant's parents only have $50,000 of equity in their home, he may agree that the forfeiture of a $50,000 bond would mean the defendant's parents would lose everything if their son became a fugitive.
- The defendant's check-in requirements if he makes bail. A judge will feel more secure in lowering bail if he knows that the defendant is required to check-in regularly with the bondsman by phone or in person. You can even offer to put the defendant on electronic monitoring and house arrest.
- Your willingness to write, with your insurance company's approval, a bond of a specific amount.
By providing the testimony, you only help secure a bond you previously could not write, but also you provide your client with a valuable service. In addition, you will gain a reputation in the community as a high-quality, professional bondsman.
Guest Contributor Mark T. Holtschneider is the Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Lexington National Insurance Corporation, a leading surety that underwrites bail bonds across the country. Mark can be reached at 888-888-2245 or [email protected]
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