If a loved one has recently been arrested for the first time, then you may be new to the bail process. You may not know exactly what goes into bail, how it is paid, and how a bail bonds agent can help. But even for the person who does understand how this process works, there are a few things about bail and bail bonds that are unknown to many people.
An Overview of Bail
If you are brand new to the world of posting bail, then you could use a 101 course on the basics. Bail is the total dollar amount that a judge requires the defendant or their loved ones pay in order to get them out of jail and waiting at home for their court date. The purpose of bail is to hold the defendant accountable for making all the appropriate appearances in court and to prevent anyone from trying to skip town and evade the law, hoping to avoid being sentenced. But if someone cannot pay for bail, then the defendant must sit in jail while they wait for their court date. There is a third option, however, and that is hiring the services of a bail bonds agent to post bail for you if you don’t have the cash or collateral available.
Bail bonds agents will work with you to get your loved one out of jail as soon as possible to wait for their court date at home. They will either charge you a fee or will require collateral and will post bail as soon as they receive payment. They may also offer payment plans to help you afford their services.
Bail bonds agents are incredibly helpful when a friend or family member gets arrested and you cannot afford to post their bail to get them out of jail. However, there are a few things you need to know about bail and bail bonds to be prepared if you are ever in this situation.
Bail Bonds May Not Be Available in Your State
Certain states including Maine, Oregon, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Illinois, and Washington D.C. don’t have bail bonds agents. Bail bonds are a private lending service that may be restricted in certain areas. If you live in a state where bail bonds don’t exist, and a loved one gets arrested and put in jail, you will need to pay the entire bail amount in cash to get them out of jail and waiting at home for their court date.
Paying Bail On Your Own Isn’t Always the Best Idea
Paying cash bail in full is a long-term investment that can potentially wreak havoc on your financial situation. Bail bondsmen allow you to only pay a portion of the bail amount and offer much less risk than paying for it entirely yourself. The risk comes into play when paying bail in full if the defendant should break the agreements made to the court and miss a court date or other requirement. When this happens, you are not given a refund for the bail you paid and you’ve just lost that money. The court will only give you the bail amount back if the defendant shows up for every court date and does everything that they need to. But why take that risk when you can hire a bail bondsman? They will only charge you a percentage of the bail amount and will post bail for you. There is no risking losing the entire bail amount and being worse off financially than before.
Not Everyone Needs Bail
Not every arrest requires bail or a bail bonds agent to allow the person to be released from jail while awaiting trial. Depending on the charges, a person can be let out of jail on their own recognizance, which is basically walking out of jail for free. But not everyone gets so lucky. To qualify for recognizance, you most likely need to be a first-time offender, be charged with a non-violent crime, and be seen as a low flight risk to the jail. A low flight risk means that there is a small chance that you would attempt to flee before your court date. If you or a loved one should be released from jail on your own recognizance, you must attend all of your court dates or there will be consequences.
Making the Court Date Isn’t Always Enough
Many people think that when getting released from jail on bail, all they need to do to fulfill the requirements is to attend their court date. But that isn’t all you may have to do. You may have multiple court dates to attend, may need to enroll in a drug or alcohol education program, or you may have to remain within a certain city or state as decided by the court. If an arrestee does not follow through on all of their requirements, then whoever signed for the bail bond will risk having their offered collateral being taken by the bond agency.
Collateral Can Be Many Things
If you are securing a bail bond with an agency to get a loved one out of jail, then you will most likely need to offer some sort of collateral to hold yourself accountable. But there are many types of collateral that you can offer, including property, land, jewelry, firearms, a bank account balance, your car, or other valuable possessions. You can also avoid having to offer any of these important parts of your livelihood should the defendant break bail requirements, and pay a surety bond which is a percentage of the bail amount.
If a loved one has recently been arrested, then you should know that you have options when it comes to getting them out of jail as soon as possible without having to bankrupt yourself. Contact the friendly bail bondsmen at Armstrong Bail Bonds to have any of your questions answered and learn the options you have available.