One of the questions we get from family, friends, and complete strangers is "When should I call a bondsman." You might think reflexively, "Whenever you need to get out of jail!" But it is not that simple. When someone has been arrested, emotions run high and it is difficult to make the right choice. Everyone, of course, has the right to an attorney and to make a phone call from jail, but who do you call and why?
Did you plan on getting arrested? We thought otherwise, too. But facts are facts. You are in the clink. Even if the offense was minor – say, you mouthed off to the police during a traffic stop then refused to provide identification – you may be facing a situation where you are in jail and need legal help. Calling a lawyer is a good idea, but not necessarily the first one you should make. A lawyer will obviously provide legal advice, but not every lawyer – especially a public defender – can provide the funds to bail someone out of jail. And calling a relative or friend is dicey at best – do you want to involve them in your troubles? Do you want them spending their money to bail you out? Probably not. Thus, you call a bondsman if you are incarcerated in Jefferson County, Arapahoe County, Denver County, or anywhere else in Colorado.
Once you call one of our bail bonds professionals, you will be asked to explain your situation and provide other details. This includes name, address, age, where you are being held, what you were charged with, and the amount of bail. We will work with you to get a bond application filled out, complete an indemnity agreement, make payment arrangements, and provide a receipt. After that, we post the bail and you are released. You call a bondsman when it is your best option.
A bail bonding professional is a private citizen, not a peace officer. As such, he or she must abide by the law just like any other citizen in Colorado. But our line of business can be dangerous at times. Working in bail bonds is not just a matter of posting bail for someone. The job can be dangerous. Even if we get a defendant released on bond, there is no guarantee that person will honor a scheduled court date. If a defendant is uncooperative and threatens to do harm, we have the right to defend ourselves, up to and including the use of deadly force. That is not a scenario we like to think about but, as such, we can carry a weapon with the correct permit – the same as any other private citizen.
"A permit to carry a concealed weapon may be obtained through the Sheriff of the county in which you live. You must meet certain requirements to qualify for the permit. [C.R.S. 18-12-203] Consult your local Sheriff's Department for more information on obtaining a permit. The permit and a valid photo identification must be carried with the handgun at all times. A permit is not required and a handgun is not considered concealed when a person is in a private automobile or other private transportation. [C.R.S. 18-12-105 (2)]"
Depending on local ordinances, some bondsman can open-carry, meaning their handgun is plainly visible. It is important to know that those in our industry who do carry a handgun receive regular training on the use and care of firearms. It is a responsibility we take very seriously and is not something any of us do unless required by a particular circumstance.
For more information, contact your local sheriff or police department or go online.
As a private citizen and not a peace officer, a bondsman in Colorado is authorized to make what is referred to as a "citizen's arrest." If a defendant has signed a bail agreement and fails to appear in court, or otherwise breaks the terms of the agreement, a bail agent can bring the defendant – now a fugitive – to the courthouse. We are also granted the power, under these circumstances, of entering any dwelling without a warrant to arrest the defendant. Our state defines this authority under the statute CRS 16-3-201
As you can see, the role of a bail bonding professional is complicated, dangerous, and provides a valuable service to someone who is incarcerated but has run out of options to secure his or her freedom. These are responsibilities we take very seriously, and partly explain our efforts to defeat pending legislation nationwide to do away with the cash bail system and, when possible, revise existing laws that weaken our ability to carry out the duties of our chosen profession.
Over the last several years, laws have been passed in New York, New Jersey, and elsewhere to do away with cash bail, severely restrict its use, or replace it with risk assessment tools, or by granting judges greater latitude in releasing defendants without bail or for reduced amounts. Arguments by opponents have been powerfully made but upticks in crime in some states recently have caused voters to rethink their opinions and decisions.
In California, in fact, Proposition 25, which would have eliminated cash bail and replaced it with a hodgepodge of stopgap measures, was soundly defeated at the polls with a vote of 55 percent No and 44 percent Yes. Given the Golden State's liberal makeup, this was a surprising but welcomed result.