If someone finds they’ve been arrested and in need of posting bail, the number of bail bond companies out there is seemingly endless. While that may be good news for the person in custody, it may not be for the people posting those bonds.
“The business is probably more competitive now than it was ten years ago because of the way jails operate,” said
George Stahlman Jr, owner of King Stahlman Bail Bonds in San Diego and son of the late Founder George Stahlman.
“They’ve changed some of their policies and how they do business, which has opened the door for some companies to be competitive where maybe they weren’t.”
The sheriff’s department regularly posts when individuals are eligible for bail so bondsmen are frequently checking whosinjail.com. Once an individual has been cleared for release, agencies clamor to offer their services.
“Instead of us being professional people writing our check going over there calmly, you see all the agents in tennis shoes ready to run,” says bail bond agent Alejandra Gibbs. “It’s so much competition because this person just wants to get out of jail and they call everybody.”
Gibbs says her business provides a service to the defendant’s family, giving them the opportunity to handle their cases outside of jail.
“If someone knows they can do time, a lot of people benefit from bail because they can get their family situated,” she said. “Knowing they’re going to be going away for a while, they can handle things they have to out here. A person can fight their case on bail for up to two years.”
Bail bond agent Lionel Hernandez from Chula Vista Bail Bonds has a different take on the bond game.
“It’s only cutthroat if you believe that,” he said. “You just got to be nice to people. Even if they don’t have money, you just have to make sure to help them out, relax them and make them feel at ease. And when they do end up getting money they’re going to come back to you because you went out of your way to help them out.”
Danny Hernandez of Yo Salgo Bail Bonds in Chula Vista says that while the industry is competitive, he doesn’t really pay attention to the competition.
“We do nothing out of the ordinary,” Hernandez said when asked what he does to stay ahead of the competition. “We just follow the law and be as ethical as possible.”
Companies that issue the bonds are responsible for the money if a defendant misses their court date.
Ultimately, bail bond companies have a little under 200 days to get their client in front of a judge.
“If someone misses a court date we get a notice from the court demanding full payment. That full payment is suspended for 185 days,” said Stahlman. “We have 185 days to find that person and either put paperwork in their hand to get them back into court and get everything straightened out.”