How do Bail Bonds Work
If you get a phone call about a friend or loved one being taken to jail, that can be an upsetting and even frightening experience. First of all, don’t panic. Review here what you can do.
What Does it Mean To Bail Someone Out of Jail?
Let’s begin by clarifying some terminology:
- When a person is arrested and charged on suspicion of a crime, that person is taken by law enforcement personnel to jail.
- While awaiting an appearance in court, the individual will be held in jail unless he or she is released on bail. Bail is simply an amount someone will pay the court so that the person is released from jail in order to insure he or she will return to the court for trial and not disappear.
- Bail amount. The judge will set a bail amount according the severity of the charged crime. A judge can decide not to allow the defendant to be released on bail if the defendant is at risk of not returning to the court for trial or is a risk to the community.
- Where can bail be posted? At the court during regular business hours or at the jail day or night. The court or jail will provide a receipt showing that the bail was paid.
- Who can post bail? The defendant, a friend or family member or bond agent.
- A bail bondsman, or bond agent is a person or agency that will assist in the process of posting the required amount of money as bail on behalf of the defendant.
- The defendant to be released must strictly comply with the directions of the court.
Remember to be patient. The processing time for bail typically involves 4 to 8 hours. You can get a deeper understanding of the bail process on Wikipedia.
How to Choose a Bail Bondsman or Bail Agent
It is important to explore and evaluate potential bail bond agents carefully and ask lots of questions before relying on their services.
- Is the company a member of the Better Business Bureau? Find out what their rating is.
- Expect accurate information and a thorough understanding of the bail bonding process.
- What are their fees? How much do you have to pay? Is there collateral required? Make sure you understand all their terms of service. Read the fine print.
- Understand what happens to the bail amount if the defendant fails to appear in court.
- Understand what happens to the bail amount if the defendant is to be released from jail.
What Can Happen to the Defendant?
First, bail may be denied if the crime charged is severe or if the background of the defendant is already under legal scrutiny or the person is considered a flight risk. However, in some cases, the judge may decide that the defendant may be released on their own recognizance without having to pay bail. Second, bail may be set for someone to pay. In this case, these options exist:
- The defendant or a friend or family member can pay the full bail amount in cash.
- The defendant can use real property as collateral (such as a home or other physical property) to post bail with the court.
- A bail bondsman can be secured to post the required bail amount.
How Much Do I Have to Pay? Will I Get My Money Back?
Bail bond agents will typically charge a fee of ten percent for a state criminal charge and fifteen percent for a federal bail bond, with a minimum payment required in some states. Make sure you are not obligated to any other fees! Some bondsmen will allow a monthly schedule of payments. The fee is not refundable and represents the bond agents fee for services provided.
What Are the Hazards with Bail Bonds?
It is critical that the defendant meet the court date. If the defendant does not appear as required, the court will schedule a forfeiture hearing and issue an arrest warrant. If the defendant fails to appear for the forfeiture hearing or does not have a valid excuse, the court will keep the bail amount. If the defendant is re-arrested while out on bail, the court will also keep the bail amount.