Bail Bonds FAQS
Thanks to the popularity of legal dramas on television, pretty much everybody has a rough idea of what “bail” is. Unfortunately, most people don’t really understand how it all works. The following Bail Bond FAQ answers some of the most common questions we get about bail bonds.
1. What Is A Bail Bond?
A bail bond can be seen as an insurance policy that the defendant in any kind of legal proceeding will make all of their court appearances as ordered without forcing the individual to remain in custody for the duration of the case. Essentially, a bail bondsman (that’s us) provides a written guarantee that a defendant will return to court when ordered if released.
They aren’t necessary if the defendant can provide cash or real property to meet their bail, but bail amounts are frequently too high for this to be a feasible option for most people. Therefore, it is fairly common for a defendant or their loved ones to purchase bail bonds to get out of jail and prepare their legal defense.
If you need a bail bond, you (or your agent) come to our office and purchase them in exchange for a down payment. This payment is our fee for the services we provide, so you will not receive a refund after the case. You will also be required to provide valid ID (driver’s license, passport, military ID, etc.), a copy of your pay stub (or bank information if you are compensated through direct deposit), proof of residency (to establish your incentive not to flee), and funds to serve as both collateral and down payment. In exchange, you receive documentation that you can take to the court in order to secure your release.
2. How Much Will Bail Cost Me?
Bail is generally set by the judge or magistrate presiding over a case on an individual basis. The severity of the crime you are accused of is one of the most important determining factors, as is whether or not you are considered a “flight risk.” For example, if you hold dual citizenship and have extensive personal connections in another country, you may be considered a greater risk to flee to that country than somebody who doesn’t know anyone outside of the United States. Bail is likely to be adjusted accordingly.
Most jurisdictions have a “schedule” of bail amounts associated with common offenses, providing both the judge and the lawyers on each side with some guidance on what bail might be. However, the individual in charge of the case is under no obligation to follow these recommendations, especially in the face of extenuating circumstances on either side.
Regardless, the court will always make your bail amount clear. If you still don’t understand it, feel free to ask your lawyer for a more comprehensive explanation. We can also provide valuable information concerning bail, including the consequences of abusing the privilege it grants.
3. Do I Need Collateral to Get A Bail Bond?
Yes, collateral is often required to help pay the bail amount if you fail to appear in court for any reason. Providing collateral also gives you a stake in the process, making you less likely to flee and abandon your property than you may have been if only someone else’s money was at stake.
If you want to minimize the amount of collateral you need to put up, consider having somebody other than yourself purchase the bail bond. Defendants tend to know whether they plan to go “on the run” or appear in court as scheduled, making them more risky bets for a bail bondsman than a sincere family member just trying to help out a loved one. As a result, it is more expensive and time consuming for a defendant to secure their own bail bond than it would be for somebody else working on their behalf.
4. What Things Can I Put Up for Collateral?
Thankfully, you have many options when it comes to putting up collateral. Cash is nearly universally accepted, as is the deed to any expensive property you own such as a home or car. You can also use expensive jewelry, stocks, or bonds to secure a defendant’s release. Finally, credit cards and even bank account information may be accepted as collateral in certain circumstances.
Collateral may also be arranged on a case by case basis. For instance, we might accept something from one defendant but not another depending on the specifics of their situation.
Unlike your initial down payment, any collateral collected will be returned to you at the conclusion of your case. We only take physical possession of your property to give us a recourse in the event you fail to appear for a scheduled court date, not as an additional charge for our services.
5. What If the Person I Bail Out Does Not Appear in Court?
If the individual who was bailed out fails to appear for a scheduled court appearance, we are legally obligated to help authorities take them back into custody in our role as bail bondsman. Don’t flee on the assumption that we like fugitives and will protect them, because we don’t and won’t.
If a defendant cannot be found, we will be forced to pay the court the full amount promised on the bail bond. If anybody co-signed on your behalf (or outright purchased the bond for you), they can also be held legally liable for the bail posted. Again, most people do not have that kind of money laying around. You will be creating a financial hardship for your loved ones if you fail to appear in court as scheduled.
Hopefully, the information above gave you a more comprehensive understanding of the bail process as it works in the United States. While it is best to avoid needing a bail bond, sometimes innocent people find themselves in need of one. If you ever find yourself in that predicament, give us a call to discuss all of your options.