Most people do not know anything about bail bonds until they or a loved one is arrested and actually need a bail bond company. It’s not a thing people leisurely read up on before bedtime.
If you find yourself searching for a bail bond company, to cover felony criminal bonds, misdemeanor bonds, or even non-arrest bonds, we’ve put together an overview of frequently asked questions below:
- What exactly does a bail bond company do?
When a person is arrested and awaiting trial, the judge will set a dollar amount that can be used as a guarantee that the individual will return for court if they are set free; this is call their “bail.” The amount of the bail depends on the charges against the person and the likelihood that they would abandon their court date. In order to get out of jail, the suspect can choose to hire a bail bond company to cover the bail (or guarantee it) on their behalf. Sometimes this means the bail bond company puts the entire amount of cash on the line, or sometimes they just pay a 10% cash payment and provide a surety of the rest in exchange for the release of the suspect. The bail bond company benefits from doing this by charging a fee to the defendant, usually of 10% of the total bill, that is nonrefundable, even if the case is dismissed.
- What information do I need in order to use a bail bond company?
In order for a bail bond agency to work on your behalf to release the defendant, you will need to have the following information on hand:
- The facility in which the defendant is in custody. (If you are handling this from out of state, you will need to double check the city and name of the jail before contacting a bail bond agency).
- The legal name and the booking number of the defendant. This information is how the bail bond company identifies the person they are working on behalf of with the jail.
- The total dollar amount of bail set by the courts. If you do not know this information, the bail bond agent will be able to get it from the jail. However, providing it upfront will help you determine the cost to you to post bail.
- What happens if a defendant does not show up for court?
If you post bail (or use a bail bond company) for a loved one and then they do not return for their court date, you are at risk of losing all the money that you put on the line for them. If you put collateral to secure their bail bond, you may lose it.
Often, you’ll have 90 days or so to turn the suspect in and recover your money. If the defendant is arrested within that 90 day period, you can follow the same process to get your money back. Often, the bail bond company that you use will enlist the services of a bounty hunter to recover the person so that the money is not lost to the court. If the methods fail, the entire bail amount will be lost.
- Are there any alternatives to using a bail bond company?
There are a few options to posting bail for a suspect outside of using a bail bond company:
- You can put the entire cash amount for the bond on the line as a surety that the suspect will return for their court date.
- You can use an asset that you have of the same value as the bond as collateral for the defendant’s release. Often, this is the title to property you own. As long as the defendant complies with the terms of his release, your asset remains in your possession. However, if the defendant does not return for their court date, you could lose the property.
- Sometimes, if the charges against the defendant are minimal and their risk of skipping bail is minor, the judge can will let the defendant go on their own guarantee that they will return.
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