The Origin of Bail Bonds

If you’ve ever had to post bail, you probably thanked your lucky stars for your bail bondsman in Angleton, TX. Not too many people have tens of thousands of dollars on hand to put up as collateral! A bondsman makes it easy to put down a smaller amount and get out of jail, so you can start planning your defense with legal counsel.

But things weren’t always this easy. Bondsmen didn’t always exist! Long ago, if you were accused of a crime, you simply stayed in jail until the day of your hearing. Not only did this make life miserable (especially for those eventually acquitted), it made it hard to plan a sound defense.

The Early Days of Bail

Bail first entered history in the 13th century, but didn’t really evolve into a real industry until a few centuries later. Early bail bonds were value traps that preyed on people in their time of weakness. Often, only moderately well-off persons could afford bail or the collateral for a bond, and even then, bond agents charged outrageous premiums.

Malicious bond practices met their match around 1677, however. In England, Parliament passed the Habeas Corpus Act, which put restrictions on excessive bail. This helped to bring more transparency to the bail bond’s industry by keeping bail manageable and bondsmen more accountable.

After, the United States applied further honesty to the concept of bail. In 1789, it was stated that all non-capital offenses were bailable, ensuring everyone had the right to post bail and begin working on their legal defense.

Flash forward to 1966 and you get the final evolution of bail. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Bail Reform Act, which set reasonable bail schedules for crimes, to limit financial burden on persons posting bail who had not yet been convicted. This law was modified slightly in 1984, including new provisions to prevent discrimination against the poor and holding dangerous (repeat) offenders responsible for higher bail.

The Evolution of the Bondsman

As bail has evolved throughout the ages, so has the role of the bondsman. Bail bondsmen in Angleton, TX are more accessible now that bail itself is more controlled. Moreover, competition within the bail bonds market has kept premiums charged by bondsmen in check, preventing a return to the outrageous rates of 13th century greed-mongers.

The concept of collateral has also evolved in regards to bondsmen. Being able to put up assets for potential forfeiture has made it easier for individuals to secure bonds—instead of having to put up major assets like their home. Being able to secure a bond with jewelry, a vehicle or other moderate-value items reduces the overall risk to someone, without putting the liability back on the bond agent.

Finally, today’s bondsman is generally less of a shady character! Bond transactions are recognized and expected by the court, meaning most bond agents are upstanding, honest, well-organized companies. They understand the expectations of the court and often work in cooperation with the court and the accused, providing reminder phone calls for court dates and even offering transportation to and from hearings!

Bail and bondsmen have come a long way over the centuries, for the betterment of the entire legal system. It’s easy to see how good you’ve got it if you need to post bail today—just look at what your predicament may have been 400 years ago!

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