For awhile now, there has been a huge shift toward bail bonds companies offering not only payment plans, but little to zero upfront down obligations and interest. Much like other industries, such as law firms, doctor offices, etc, it is not difficult to have clients simply not afford their service unless the business is willing to take additional financial risks and offer flexible payment options. Smarter credit card users may realize once they factor in how much they would pay in residual interest, credit card bonds have their downsides even. While becoming subject to credit card late fees also, the payment choices bail bonds companies give start to look rather enticing.
Disguised Online Threat.
Perhaps these kiosks might affect small mom and pop businesses, but there is still plenty of time before this option is made available to all jails. A larger threat for smaller businesses is the relatively recent developments of bail bonds companies hiring aggressive search engine and social media marketing services. Driving into any city, one is not hard pressed to find a bail bonds company specifically near jails and court buildings, so the industry appears to be doing rather well. For example, if only a handful of businesses within a city closed, largely it would go unnoticed and bail kiosks could not certainly be a punishing blow to the industry.
There is no shortage of literature describing how the recession has impacted the bail bonds industry negatively. This can be seen by the competitive payment plans offered, but the market itself is growing. The leaders of the industry help make 7 figures annually routinely. The amount of individuals with a bail license writing bonds alone, vastly outweigh the number of companies with legitimate store-front offices, employees, website, etc. This is analogous to realtors; you can't expect that everyone with a real estate license to compete with large realty companies much like every bail broker can't expect to survive the economic and legislative fluctuations all businesses face.
The bail bonds industry was rooted and remains to be built on responsibility. Bail agents are paid a fee to make sure defendants appear to court so that they do not have to stay in jail in the meantime. Bail bonds companies cannot be successful without adhering to this responsibility and maintaining very low forfeiture (also failure to appear) rates. If courts allow this responsibility to become lifted with these credit card bonds, then there will not only be a higher failure to appear rate, but State costs will rise with having to contract people to apprehend fugitives. In Nevada for example, there are over 100 Las Vegas bail bonds companies. Imagine the total addition of overhead and responsibility for each County to bear if kiosks became widely used. Check Bail Bonds Thousand Oaks and California Bail Bonds.
One way or another, there will be a need for a group to take responsibility. For this reason, credit card kiosks will more than likely plateau in use and serve only defendants that have very minor crimes (also misdemeanors). Potentially in the future what could happen is that bail kiosks are sold to bail bond companies to manage within jails.
Bail Schedule Increase.
For defendants recognized as being a "flight" risk, judges may impose a higher bail to either (1) indirectly prevent bail being posted because it becomes unaffordable or (2) help make indemnitors so invested into the bond, that there becomes extra stress from family or friends to appear in court. If credit card bail kiosks become recognized, the State might impose higher bail amounts for crimes in the event there was an increase in fugitives. Any changes like this would most certainly help the bail bonds market by creating on average larger bonds to write.
Those who have not needed bail bonds service may be unaware the fee (also premium) required for some defendants can be equivalent and sometimes higher than the regular monthly salaries of your average doctor or attorney. Not a bad day's work right? If the continuing state increased the bail amount for common, smaller crimes, the bail market could look forward to a measurable increase in revenue. In addition, the appearance of a crime problem within a city can be created by the misconduct of even one individual or group. If the true number of fugitives increased due to bail kiosks, surely the potential for changing the bail plan for certain offenses would also increase. However, the County may reduce the number of kiosks or tighten restrictions of its use to offset a problem before increasing bail amounts. There's a common saying, "If it ain't broken, don't fix it."