Bailbondsmen Worst Enemy
Pretrial and bail have always been on opposing sides. Many view them as enemies within the same field and at times pretrial has been described as the bailbondsmen worst enemy. Although similar in nature in that we both release the incarcerated we both do an invaluable service and serve the system in different ways.
Pretrial is not bails worst enemy. Bails not so well known worst enemy is the occasional unscrupoulous rotten greedy bail agent. The same one responsible for the industries shady image. The image of a Dracula lurking agent with sharp vampire teeth hidden behind a courthouse column waiting to spring on you to sink his teeth as you approach and inquire about how to get your loved one released from the detention facility.
Every business has competitors, some legitimate and others...well let's just say those others will do anything for a buck whether illegal, immoral or bluntly inappropriate.
In bail a field which until the last decade had gone recently highly unregulated we encountered licensed bail agents bending the few rules and compensating unlicensed personnel to hustle business for them. So aggressive in their approach that we termed these hustlers court house whores. These unlicensed people would stand around the courthouse and jail and pass out bail agents business cards to family members of defendants or anyone looking a bit confused and possibly in need of bail. Needless to say this type of soliciting is the equivalent of ambulance chasing and in bail considered illegal and criminal. The bail agent would get away with it because he or she wasn't the one actually passing out the card and the department that regulates bail had no authority to fine or reprimand non licensed personnel. Common sense dictates that if you as an agent cannot do this then you should probably not send someone else to do it on your behalf either.
Just as slimy was the practice to post bail for defendants to get them released out of jail without having spoken to either the defendant, family nor friends. The defendant was then taken to the bail agents office and given a phone to commence making phone calls until he came up with the bail money otherwise the bail agent would simply return or surrender the defendant back to the jail. Many times bail agents from a different company who had been contacted legitimately and been paid to arrange this clients bail would find out their clients had already been bonded out of detention.
Scenario number three are licensed agents paying off inmates and or correction officers to hustle bonds for them from within inside the jailhouse. Some inmates make a pretty penny jumping on all newly booked in inmates. They hound them and put them on the phone with a particular bondsman that either deposits money into their commissary via postal money orders or sends money directly to an inmates relative to avoid potential detection. The law is very strict that bondsman must not share commissions with anyone other than a licensed bail bond agent.
From these abhorrable practices and others stem the attempts to put an end to this abuse and regulate bail - Seemingly welcome news to the majority of honest bail businessmen and agencies. Unfortunately, most of the laws implemented have only served to scrutinize the well meaning bondsman trying to make an honest living whom is following the law.
Somehow those operating illegally manage to go undetected move from location to location, change agents and agencies, pay off inmates and or correction officers and solicit openly, have no offices and work off mobile phone lines bypassing every security implemented by the regulating department meant to protect the consumer in bail matters.
Us as legitimate bail agents then have to point the finger to fellow bail agents and contact and complain to the Department of Financial Services and or the Sheriffs Office to make them aware of unfair and illegal business practices going on, and consequently viewed as whiners.
As ugly as it all is it really is the only way to ensure our own livelihood and the future of bail. To those who call these complaints petty and view them as bail wars just think for a minute, picture yourself as a legitimate business owner, dreaming of making it by working honestly and hard, just living the American Dream. Your neighbor opens the same type business but instead of following the rules, cuts all corners to make a larger profit and in doing so avoids paying the required occupational license, has practically no overhead opening an office or storefront and lurks around stealing clients you brought in through your advertisements and or office signs.
Good moral character is a characteristic you either have or you don't and in my humble opinion is instilled as a youngster. Sure, people can change but for the most part the saying 'a leopard doesn't change his stripes' is around for a reason. There is a term and requirement in bail for you to get licensed. It states you have to have 'good moral turpitude'. What does that mean? Simply stated it means you must have good character as well as good judgement.
If an agent can't compete on the same playing field as the rest of the seasoned, competent, honest bail agents maybe a new career should be considered as sooner or later the law always catches up.
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