What is a bail bondsman?
A bail bondsman is a person or corporation that takes responsibility for a person who has been taken to the local police station for booking or to the county jail. The bail bondsman promises to pay bail for the client who is in custody. In exchange for promising to pay bail to have the client released they charge the client 10% of the bail amount. Once they have posted the bail bond they are entitled to that 10% and that is how they make their money–so yes they keep the 10%.
Bail may then be set along with a court date. It is required that you appear before a judge within 48 hours if you are in custody unless you were arrested on a weekend possibly resulting in a longer wait. Judges look at the seriousness of the crime, your criminal record, and to your ties to close relatives and the community to determine whether bail will be set for your release. The judge may deny bail altogether if he thinks that you may attempt to flee the jurisdiction. If bail is permitted, you may pay the bail amount or a bail bondsman may promise to pay the bond for you if you fail to appear in court in exchange for a percentage of the total bail.
If charged with a misdemeanor you will most likely by arraigned in county court and presented with the charges against you. Your rights will be read to you and then you will be allowed to enter a plea if represented by counsel.
If charged with a felony you must appear in district court. Serious felony charges must be filed by indictment in front of a grand jury.
You must enter a plea of guilty meaning that you admit the charges, not guilty meaning that you did not commit the offense or no contest meaning that you are not admitting that you are guilty but not contesting the charges. You may also enter a mute plea which is a not guilty plea that allows you to contest whether the criminal process against you has been handled properly to this point.