In the state of South Carolina, a surety bondsman is a licensed insurance agent who is appointed by a surety insurance company. A Surety Bondsman, also referred to as a bail agent, is licensed to write bail bonds to secure the release of a defendant from a detention center.
A Surety Bondsman must complete educational courses, pass extensive testing, be fingerprinted and pass a background check as part of the process to receive a license. All Surety Bondsmen in South Carolina are regulated by the South Carolina Dept. of Insurance. Surety Bondsman must also be appointed by a surety insurance company for his/her license to be active.
A surety bondsman does what is typically known as ‘post’ a surety bond at the detention center to secure a defendant’s released. This non refundable fee that a surety bondsman charges a defendant is known as the ‘premium’. In the State of South Carolina, as of 2017, a bondsman typically charges a premium of 10% of the bail amount however that amount can vary. In return, the surety bondsman promises to pay the court the full bail amount if the defendant does not return to court. The bondsman and the surety insurance company are financially responsible for the defendants return to court.
While the defendant is out on bond, the surety bondsman will remain in constant contact with the defendant to ensure that the defendant has not left the jurisdiction and will return to court. If the defendant meets all court obligations, the court will relieve the bondsman and surety company of any financial obligations however if the defendant does not meet his/her court obligations, the bondsman and the surety company will be held responsible for paying the full amount of the bail to the court.
When a defendant does not show up to court, a bondsman is usually given a time limit to find and return him/her to the court. If the bondsman does not find the defendant, the court will order the bondsman and surety company to pay.
Surety Bondsmen play a major role in the monitoring of defendants while they are out on bond and play a major role in the community.