How Your Privacy Rights Apply to Bail Bondsmen

There are two ways in which your privacy rights apply to your bail bondsman.

First, you have the right to keep private anything that is not related to the charges being filed against you. This is also true for any other personal information that is not relevant at all to either the charges against you, or your financial capacity outside of the bail bond fee that you have to pay, and the collateral or additional security that a bail bondsman may require from you.

For instance, if the charges against you involve a DUI, a bail bondsman has no right to inquire about unrelated personal information such as how many children you have or how many times you were divorced.

And if you have already paid the bail bondsman’s fee, and provided the additional security or collateral that he requires, he has no right to inquire further into your financial capacity.

The second way in which your privacy right applies to your bail bondsman is that you have a reasonable expectation that he will not make public any personal information you provide him, such as what the charges against you are, what your financial capacity is, or your credit card information or bank account information.

While you may provide this information to the bail bondsman out of necessity, it does not mean that he is in a position to make this information public or to share it with others. Being a defendant in a criminal proceeding does not automatically strip you of any other rights you may enjoy, such as the right to Privacy.

Do Inmates Have a Right to Privacy?

During the 1960s and the 1970s, courts began to recognize the claim of prisoners that they still retained certain constitutional rights that should be protected even while they are prisoners. Before this, courts maintained a “hands-off” policy, unwilling to interfere in the executive branch’s prerogative to manage jails and other penal institutions. During this time, inmates were considered to have no rights because they were considered to have lost their rights when they committed their crimes.

In these modern times, it is a given that prisoners do still retain certain rights even while kept as a prisoner in jail. These are constitutionally protected rights, such as the right to free speech, the right to freedom of religion, and a right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Prisoners do not, however, have a right to privacy.

This is based on a ruling set down by the Supreme Court in Hudson v. Palmer in 1984, where prisoners were deemed to have no reasonable expectation of privacy that warranted Fourth Amendment protection. The peculiar needs and restrictions of being in prison argued strongly against this. Prisoners are expected to submit to searches and seizures conducted by jail authorities, are essentially always within the observation of the authorities, and even their mail is subject to inspection before delivery to the prisoner-recipient. All these jail regulations are necessary to maintain order and discipline within the jail, and to make sure that no one prisoner is enjoying extra privileges that he would not otherwise have – or else why be in prison in the first place? Obviously, there is no constitutionally protected right to privacy in this instance.

How a Bail Bondsman Can Help Protect Your Privacy

Due to the nature of their business, bail bondsmen may have access to some of your private information, including the availability of cash and other valuable property that belong to you. A bail bondsman is also privy to the details of the criminal case filed against you, including what the charges are, and what facts or events transpired that led up to your being arrested in a criminal charge.

But being privy to such information is not a license to make these known to the public. To a certain extent, even a criminal defendant is still entitled to the right to privacy, and the reasonable expectation that information provided in confidence will be kept confidential by your bail bondsman.

While a bail bondsman may assist you in the satisfaction of your bail requirements, you can also ask them not to publicize any of your personal information, as well as to maintain a bit of discretion about the events surrounding your arrest in your community. This may also include confidentiality regarding your bail and any other conditions that are attached to your bail.

A certain level of discretion is to be expected from your bail bondsman, and you can trust that he will not make public the fact that you were arrested, spent time in jail, and required his services as a bail bondsman. Of course, anything relevant to the court proceedings are a matter of public record, including the fact that you hired their services. But being made a matter of public record does not necessarily mean that these should actively be made public, thus avoiding what could otherwise be an embarrassing experience for you.