Terms of the Agreement: Looking at Contracts between Bail Agents and the Defendant

My topic for the semester is going to focus on the bail bond agencies, specifically the contracts between a bail agent and the defendant. I am going to be looking at contract formation between these two parties. Some of the questions I would like to answer in my research include: what each side is agreeing to, how often a contract is actually signed, what are the minimum requirements a defendant needs to meet in order to be granted a contract, etc. Another issue under bail contracts I will be looking into is what, if anything, happens if there is a breach of this contract? Is bail forfeited? Are the defendants still liable to pay if bail is exonerated? Do bail agents “double-dip?” In other words, do they go after the defendants for money more than once? If the contract between the defendant and the bail bondsman is a civil contract, then why is the remedy for breach of contract a criminal penalty, being put back into custody? Ultimately I hope to answer these questions and more, while increasing my understanding about the private bail bonds agencies in California.

My name is Zina Zaia and I am currently in my second year of law school at Santa Clara University. Since I have been in law school, my internships and class electives have centered on criminal law, specifically criminal defense and helping the indigent defendant. My research and writing for this policy class on bail will be a continuation of that trend. My hope in researching my topic is to gain a better understanding of a large part of the criminal justice system that disproportionately affects the indigent defendant.

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