If you have been arrested, the chances are you will need bail in order to be released from jail. While some people are released on their own recognizance by simply promising to turn up for their court date, most have to pay some form of bail.
Bail is an amount of money that you, your family or friends pay to secure your release. For standard misdemeanors there is normally a standard bail amount, and by paying this at the jail, you will not have to wait to appear before a judge. Jails accept cash, money orders and cashiers checks. When the case is over, the bail money will be returned. If a judge sets the amount of bail, they will take into account the seriousness of the charges, the defendant’s character and past history, and the potential flight risk.
Ways to Pay Your Bail
- Money Order
- Cashiers Check
- Hire a Bail Bondsman
How to Hire a Bail Bondsman
If it’s not a great amount, you may be able to come up with the money yourself, but if not, you can seek help from a bail bondsman. A bail bondsman will loan you the money you need to get out of jail, but it will cost you a fee, normally 10% of the bail amount. Therefore, if your bail is $5,000, the bondsman will charge you $500 to post your bail. Even when the case is over, this is non-refundable. You can call a Bail Bondsman from jail, or your family can hire one for you. Once you have located the Bondsman, paperwork will normally take less than an hour.
- A bail bondsman charges a fee that equals 10% of your total bail amount.
How It Works
The Bondsman is taking a risk by loaning you the money: if you don’t show up for your court date, he is responsible for paying the entire bail amount to the court. Because of this, most Bondsmen require a co-signer who promises to pay the full amount of the bail if you fail to make it to court. The co-signer will have to put up their assets as a surety, for example, property, stocks or bonds, or a vehicle. A lien may be put on the house, and if you skip town, the court may initiate foreclosure proceedings to recover the forfeited bail amount. A bondsman will always accept cash as collateral, which will be returned when the case is over.
- If your bail is especially high, you may need to put up collateral.
- Cash, property like vehicles, land and houses, as well as stocks can be used as collateral.
Make Sure the Bondsman is Legitimate
A Bondsman is licensed by the state. When you first meet, make sure that his license number is on any paperwork or a business card. If you don’t see it, ask to see his license. Read all paperwork carefully prior to signing anything, and remember to keep copies of everything.
- Make sure any bail bondsman you hire is licensed by the state you are in.
Don’t Skip Town
By posting a bail bond on your behalf, the Bail Bondsman is taking responsibility for you. If you don’t follow the terms and conditions that they have set, you run the risk of being sent back to jail. Always check in at the required times, and make sure that they know where you are at all times. If you fail to appear in court, a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest. A Bail Bondsman has court authorized power to arrest you. They can also hire a bail fugitive recovery person (or bounty hunter) to track you down.
- Don’t skip town.
- If you skip out on your bondsman they can track you down and arrest you.
- If you skip out on your bondsman, you will lose any collateral that you posted with them.
Bear in mind that certain states have banned the practice of bail bonds, so be sure to check your local jurisdiction to find out what options are available to you.