Effective Ways to Reduce the Failure-to-Appear Rate in Court
The increasing rate of FTAs in the courts has become a growing concern for law firms and bail bondsmen in the US. Despite their best efforts, there’s always a good chance that if a client has decided to skip appearance, they’ll do it anyway. After all, there’s only so much a bail bond agent can do to make sure all of their clients appear before the court on scheduled dates.
Here’s a bail bond agent’s guide to making sure their clients abide by the terms of bail and appear before the court when called for.
1. Make calculated underwriting decisions
There’s no rule of thumb to identify a defendant that’s going to dodge the next scheduled court appearance before you write their bail bond. However, being a bail bonds agent in the US, there are certain precautionary evaluations you can make to test the credibility of your client and make an informed decision about whether or not to write the undertaking for a particular client. This can be done by devising a parameter based on factors such as:
- Is the defendant a native or foreign?
- Are they employed?
- Do they have a criminal record or a history of FTAs?
- Their communal ties, belongings, and associations that would compel them to stay
- Their affordability to put up collateral
- Any relevancy, or relationship between their latest and the past crime
While it is natural to get tempted to write bail bonds for as many clients as you can, filtering your potential clients based on these factors will help you identify high-risk individuals with the most potential for a ‘deliberate’ failure to appear – thereby allowing you to make a more intelligent decision and preserve your business’ long-term interest.
It is a general observation that most law firms and bail bond agents prefer to stick to traditional methods and are yet to embrace technology – like other business industries – to automate and optimize their routine tasks and general procedures. Employing technology into your operations will eliminate a lot of hassle that would otherwise come with the manual handling of processes such as sending reminder texts, emails or making calls to notify the defendant and/or their co-signer of the approaching court appearance.
You can schedule an automated generation of reminders through email, text, messenger apps, or calls or all of these means, to constantly remind your client of their next court appearance and make sure that they have received and acknowledged the message. These constant reminders will make them realize the gravity of their case and increase their likelihood of appearing before the court on the scheduled date.
3. Communication is key
Being a bail bondsman, you understand that writing a bail bond is not a one-time, one-off job – but the start of a series of court appearances. A failure to appear before the court may not only lead to termination of bailment but will also affect your business’ credibility and success rate. In order to avoid any failure-to-appear, you need to focus on your communication with your clients and keep them in the loop throughout. Inform them about the consequences of an FTA and its impact on their case, and keep them updated on the upcoming court appearances well in advance, so as to make sure they don’t dodge the date on purpose and complicate their case.