Frequently Asked Bail Bond Questions

Get the Answers You're Looking for about Bail Bonds

We've all heard of bail bonds, but knowing what they actually and how they work is a different animal. Today, we have movies and shows to thank for introducing us to the idea of bail bonds as something that can be used to get out of jail, but we also have them to thank for offering us a less-than-honest perspective. In entertainment, bail bonds have a somewhat-sleazy reputation. This simply isn’t the case. Bonds are a very effective way to get someone out of jail quickly, and for an affordable price. They also serve to ensure that criminals don't avoid justice. Additionally, when you work with a bail bondsman, you have the expertise of someone who has years of experience in the industry on your side. This is hugely helpful during the stressful time that you begin navigating through the criminal justice system. Here are a few of the most common frequently asked questions about bail bonds. 


     





What is a Bail?

Before we look at what bail bonds are and how they work, we need to understand the reason they exist. Bail is a unique way to protect the rights of people who have been arrested for a crime. Because our criminal justice system views them as innocent until proven guilty, they must be treated as such before their trial. But, the public must also be protected, and courts must also guarantee that the defendant will return to face justice. This is the purpose of bail. When an individual is arrested, in most cases, he or she will be booked in jail. Sitting in jail until their first court appearance is unappealing. It infringes on the rights of the defendant, is expensive for taxpayers, and could result in the defendant losing their job, or being unable to care for their families. This is the purpose of bail. The court decides on a certain amount of money that must be paid for the defendant to be released. If the defendant appears for all their court appearances, the money they paid will be returned at the completion of their case (regardless of the outcome). Paying bail serves as a sort of insurance for the court – it acts as an incentive for the defendant to face justice, which protects the public.          


What is a Bail Bond?

There are multiple ways to pay for bail, and each option differs according to each state. If you post bail outright, you are required to pay the full amount, in cash. And, there are no payment options. Bail amounts can be extremely high, making it very difficult to come up with the money for a loved one to be released. This is where bail bonds come in. When you work with a bail agent, you pay a premium to the agent, that is much less than the bail amount (ranging up to 20% of the full amount). The bondsman then issues a bond to the court, promising to pay the full amount should the defendant skip bail. This solves two problems: The defendant doesn’t have to pay a large amount of money, and the court gets their insurance that the defendant won’t skip their court appearances.          


What Do I Need to Get a Bail Bond?

To get a bail bond, you must contact a bail agent. When you call, be sure to have the following information available:                  

  1. The Defendant’s Full Name 
  2. The Jail Location
  3. The Defendant’s Booking Number
  4. The Charges the Defendant is Facing 
This will help the bail agent to work to get your friend or family member released and back home quickly. You must also be prepared to pay the bail bond premium. This is the fee an agent charges for their service. This is usually a small percentage of the full bail amount. Many bail agents offer payment plans, however, making this fee much easier to pay.


What Do Bail Bonds Cost?

The cost of bail bonds varies from state to state. In some states, the premium is controlled by law. For example, the regulations and statutes in some states set the highest amount an agency can charge at 8%, while others may be at 10%. Because premiums are usually set by law, any agency that offers “discounted” rates are likely not legitimate. They will usually quote you a price, and then end up reaching the limit through additional “fees.” This is unlawful, and can result in the agency losing their license. Check the rates in your state to make sure your bail agent isn’t charging you more than is lawful.          


What Does it Mean to Skip Bail?

Skipping (or jumping) bail is when a defendant is released from jail on a bail bond, but fails to return to court for their appearances or hearings. This results in the court issuing a bench warrant for their arrest, and it makes the bail bond void. Skipping bail is bad for everyone involved: The defendant will face additional charges, and will not likely be granted bail a second time, the people who purchased the bail bond may be held responsible for the full bail amount, and the bail agent is held accountable for the full bail amount to the court as well. This is why bail agents are insured, and why they often require collateral when the issue a bond.          


What is Bail Bond Collateral?

In many cases, bail agents will require collateral before they issue a bail bond. This acts as insurance for the agent should the defendant skip bail. Each agency differs on the collateral they accept, but it often includes: •Cars •Real Estate •Stocks or Bonds •Jewelry •Credit Cards          


Do Bail Agencies Offer Payment and Financing Options?

Each bail agency is different, but many of them offer payment and financing plans and options. Bail agents work hard to get your loved ones out of jail: By offering payment plans, they help friends and family members come up with the means necessary to pay the premium. If you’re interested in payment plan or financing options, simply ask yoru bail agency if they provide this service.          


Are Bail Bond Premiums Refundable?

The money you pay for a bail bond is not the same as the money you would pay if you posted bail in cash. The premium is a fee for the bail agency for the service of the bond, and is non-refundable. The only time you may receive your money back is if the bail agent didn’t comply with his end of the contract. Thankfully, the premium is much more affordable than the full bail amount, making it easy to pay.

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