HOW BAIL AND BAIL BONDS WORK
Chances are you will have to get a bail bond to get out of jail if you or your loved one has been arrested for any type of serious crime. While you might imagine standing before a judge who is banging their gavel and announcing “Bail is set at 1 million,” bail bonds don’t quite work this way. You may have also seen television commercials about bail bonds, but unless you’ve directly dealt with the issue of posting bail, you may find that you need a brush up on your knowledge about bail bonds.
The Meaning of “Bail”
Bail constitutes an agreement between you, the defendant, and the court. As the defendant, you agree to post a specific amount of money in exchange for the assurance that you’ll return to court for your scheduled court date. Upon appearing in court as scheduled, and as stated in the bail bond agreement, you get your money back.As an example, if the court sets bail at $15,000, this means you can pay $15,000 to the court in order to be released from jail. Once you return to court on your specified date, you’re able to get your money back. You’ll get your money back even if you’ve been convicted at your trial. However, you don’t show up for even one of your court dates, you will immediately forfeit your $15,000 and a warrant for your arrest will be issued. If you can’t pay the bail the court has set, you won’t be able to get released from jail. Therefore, you will have to remain in jail until the date the court has set for your trial.Not being able to post your bail can be a difficult and stressful situation. It means you may have to remain in jail for months between the time of your arrest and the beginning of your trial. Because of this, posting bail usually becomes your first priority after being arrested. Therefore, this is the reason people turn to bail bonds as a means to be released from jail.
How Bail Bonds Work
Bail bonds are similar to personal loans. After putting down a small percentage for the total amount, a bail bondsman or agent, gives you the rest of the money needed for your bail. Like a loan officer, this bail bondsman or agent is similar to the lender of a personal loan.As an example, if your bail is $15,000, you or a family member would be required to make a deposit of $2,000. The bail bondsman or agent would then give you the $15,000 bail needed for you to “post bail.” Most bail bond companies also will require you to provide them with some type of collateral in order to get the remaining money needed for your bail bond. Collateral is usually a deed to your house, item of jewelry, or car. This collateral is used in order to secure the bail bonds’ loan in case you don’t show up at your appointed court date, in which case you would not get your money back. After your trial is over, and you receive your money back from the court, the money is returned to bail bond company you received your bail from.Due to the fact that this is a financial risk the bail bondsman and bail bond company take because of this loan, they will often take additional precautions to make sure you attend all of your court dates. The bail bondsman wants to make sure his or her company receives back all the bail money it loaned you. As a result of these precautions, bail bond companies will frequently do the following:
- Prefer a relative or friend put up the necessary collateral for your bond. This is because you will then be less likely to miss a court date since your relative’s or friend’s house or property is on the line in for your bail bond.
- Call you before each court date in order to remind your about your upcoming trial.
- Require you to make periodic check-ins at their bail bond office to make sure you haven’t left town.
Like most defendants, you will probably agree that these precautions are a small prices to pay in order to be able to stay out of jail while waiting for a trial date or during your trial.