Bail Bonds: Description of Bail Bonds

Bail is a sum of money the court assigns you to pay in exchange for releasing you from jail for the period of time before your court appearances. Bail is usually set high enough to seriously affect your financial situation and thus, provide the motivation for you to show up for all of your court dates up until the end of your trial. Your bail will be a price you can reasonably afford and this right is protected by the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

A bail bond is available to you from a bail bond agent in the event you do not have the cash to pay your bail. A bail bond can be purchased for a percentage of your bail. You may be required to provide collateral for the balance, which can be your home, vehicle, jewelry, stocks or other valuable possessions.

If you cannot pay your bail or offer enough collateral, you can ask a friend or relative to pay it for you. This person will also be responsible for ensuring your presence on court dates and will have to pay the entire cost if you jump bail.

Forfeiting or jumping bail means not showing up for your court date. It is a crime, and a warrant for your arrest will be issued immediately. An issued arrest warrant means all police officers will be watching for you and if they find you, they will take you back to jail. Jumping bail also means all of your bail bond collateral will be lost. If you, a friend or relative offered up a home or vehicle for collateral, it is now gone to the bondsman to cover the balance of your bail that he paid. If it happens that you do still owe the bondsman, a bounty hunter will be sent after you to return you to jail; there may even be a wage garnishee or a lien put on your home.

If you do show up for all of your court dates, your collateral will be released regardless of your trial’s outcome, whether you were found innocent or guilty, or the case was dismissed. However, the bail bondsman will keep your ten percent premium payment.

A bail bondsman does not need to know why you were arrested. The only judgment they will make is whether or not you will follow through on your promise to repay your bail bond.

Bail Bonds: How To Obtain Bail Bonds

Posting the bail that the court set will have you or your loved one released from jail. Although you are feeling a great deal of pressure to hurry and pay his bail, it is very important for you to take a little time to find a reputable bail bond agent. There are a few steps you can follow in order to narrow down your search for a reputable bail bond agency:

Bail Bonds: Description of Bail Bonds
  1. Go to your state’s judicial website or your county’s website to find a listing of approved bail bond agencies in your area. Avoid the bail bond agencies that solicit at the courthouse or that contact you directly; both of these selling strategies are illegal.
  2. Websites such as http://www.bailyes.com/ will provide you with answers to your questions such as: what is my next step, what are the definitions of the different legal terms, and what are my rights and responsibilities as a defendant and as the indemnitor? There is a smaller chance you will be taken advantage of when you understand the process.
  3. Insist on seeing your bondsman’s business and agent licenses as well as identification, before entering into a contract.
  4. When you do find an agent with whom you feel comfortable, double-check by seeing if he is listed on the Better Business Bureau’s website at http://www.bbb.org/.

When you have decided on a bail bond agent you feel you can trust, you will need to do the following:

  1. If you are the indemnitor, you need to establish your financial stability and your dependability by telling them what your relationship is to the defendant, how long you have lived at your current address, how long you have had your current job, what kind of collateral you can offer if you cannot pay the full bail amount in cash, and other questions that will establish your level of reliability.
  2. Once approved, you will meet your bail bond agent at the courthouse. You will need to have your fee with you, in cash, money order or credit card, to pay your bail bond agent. He will then post the full amount of the bail. Get receipts for all financial transactions with your bail bond agent.

There are thousands of bail bond agencies in the U.S., and this industry has more than its fair share of shady dealers. Take the time to be sure you are dealing with a reputable bail bond agency.

Bail Bonds: Rates for Bail Bonds

Ten percent is the magic number in bail bond premium rates. Anything cheaper and you have just come across an illegitimate or unethical bail bond agency and you could end up losing a lot of money. The ten percent premium rate is mandated by your state’s Department of Insurance and any bail bond agency offering a lower rate is putting his bail bond agent license at risk.

You can go with a bail bond agent who offers a five percent or lower premium rate if you are a risk-taker. A bail bondsman who does not follow the law may also be the same person who does not return your collateral or sends the defendant back to jail claiming you did not pay your ten percent fee. There are many court cases currently in progress regarding bail bond scams.

Court ordered bail for a defendant’s release from jail is usually almost too high for him to pay.

This is to increase the probability the defendant will return for his court appearances after his release. However, in some circumstances, even the bail bond premium rate is too high. In this case, some defendants and indemnitors can qualify for financing or payment plans. A bail bond agency will qualify you by judging the risk they take that the defendant will jump bail or discontinue paying agreed payments:

  • As a defendant, you need to have a good credit rating and you need to be a home owner. If you have neither, you can ask a friend or family member to purchase your bail bond, if they have these qualifications.
  • If you have had steady employment, that shows financial stability and dependability.
  • If you have a clean criminal record, it means you will not likely commit another crime and that you are a responsible citizen.
  • If you have close family and community ties in the area, you are less of a flight risk, which will help qualify you for financing.

The bail bond agency needs to feel confident that the defendant is not a flight risk and will show up for his court dates before they will agree to a payment plan.

Before entering into a contract, confirm the rate your bail bond agent is quoting. A solid bail bondsman with integrity will not offer you less than the mandated ten percent premium rate. Agencies that offer less are unscrupulous and should always be avoided.


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