An arrest can take a dire toll on more than just your freedom. It also can heavily impact your finances.
After you have been placed under arrest, you typically cannot be released from jail until you post a bail bond. You can prepare your bank account for this legal expense by learning what a bail bond is and under what circumstances that you can post it to secure your release before your next court date.
What is a Bail Bond?
A bail bond is a set amount of money that functions as a type of insurance between a civil or criminal defendant and the court in which the defendant’s case is being heard. In many cases, this amount of money can total hundreds or thousands of dollars. Many defendants cannot pay their bail amounts and thus require the services of a professional bail bondsman to post the money for their release from jail.
In general, there are two main types of bail bonds used for securing the release of arrested individuals from jail. A criminal bond is, as its name implies, used in criminal cases. The bail bondsman who posts the bail bond guarantees that the defendant will show up to all of his or her court appearances after his or her release from jail. It also guarantees the payment of any fines or penalties that the court levies against this individual.
A civil bond is used in civil cases and acts as a surety between the client in question and the court. It promises that the defendant in the civil legal action will pay his or her civil debt. It also ensures that the client will pay any additional fees or penalties that the court levies against him or her.
If a person cannot afford to pay the bail to secure his or her release from police custody, he or she typically will be advised to call a bail bondsman in the area. The bail bondsman will post the required percentage to the court’s clerk in a timely manner in order to get the client out of jail. Bail bondsmen typically work around-the-clock and are on call even on the weekends or holidays.
How Does a Bail Bond Work?
A defendant learns how much of a bail bond he or she will have to pay at the arraignment hearing after his or her arrest. The arraignment hearing typically must take place within 48 to 72 hours after a person’s arrest. During this hearing, the person will be formally charged and told whether or not he or she can be released on bail.
After the judge issues the bail order, the defendant must post at least 10 percent of that amount. Even that reduced amount can be more than a person can pay out of his or her own bank account. Rather than sit in jail, the defendant could be given the option of using a bail bondsman to front the money for his or her release.
The bail bondsman will post the required 10 percent to secure the person’s release from police custody. He or she will then secure the rest of the bail amount with collateral in the form of the defendant’s car, home, income or other liquid assets.
The bail bond client then must show up to all court appearances and comply with the judge’s orders for the case. If he she fails to show up to court, the bond will be forfeited, and the court will demand that the rest of the bail bond be paid. The defendant will also have a new warrant issued for failing to comply with the bond terms.
If the client does show up to court and complies with all court orders, the bail bond will be dissolved, and the collateral will be returned to the person who posted it. The bail bond company will keep a 10 percent payment as profit.
How Do You Post Bail?
After you appear at your arraignment hearing and find out how much that you need to pay for your bond or bail, you can pay the minimum 10 percent in one of several ways. Your first and perhaps easiest option if you have the financial means is to simply pay it out of your own bank account. The court accepts payment forms like cash, check or credit or debit card payments.
If you do not have the money in your bank account but do possess something that is equal to or greater than the amount of bail, you can sign it over to the court. You can liquidate assets like a car, boat or even a house or real estate to satisfy the terms of your bail.
If you meet the criteria set by the court, you could ask the judge to release you on your own recognizance or ROR. ROR is usually allowed for low-risk cases or for first-time offenders who have ties to the community.
Otherwise, you need to use the services of a bail bondsman. A bondsman will pay the minimum 10 percent of your bail to secure your release from custody so that you can go home before your next court date.
Can You Pay Your Own Bail?
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could be allowed to post your own bail. Defendants are allowed to post their own bail if it is they have been arrested for and charged with their first offense or if they:
- Have lived in the area for a long time
- Have a good credit score
- Have a stable job
If you have committed and been charged with several offenses, are new to the area, have a poor credit score or are unemployed, you will likely need someone to cosign on your bond. If you have no friend or relative to cosign on a bond through a bail bonds service for you, you could face having to remain in jail until your next court date.
If you a low flight risk and have ties to the community, you or your lawyer could ask the judge to release you ROR. To be released on ROR, which is sometimes called a signature bond, you will be required to sign paperwork stating that you will appear at your next court date and comply with all stipulations that the court decides for your case. Ironically, if you meet the same criteria for being allowed to post your own bond, chances are that you can be released ROR without having to post a bond to secure your release from jail.
How Do You Bail Someone Out of Jail?
When a friend or relative calls you to bail him or her out of jail, you need to know how to go about this process to secure the person’s prompt release. It is imperative that you follow the required steps if you want to get this person out of jail as quickly as possible.
You can start this process by first finding out where the person is being detained. Large cities typically have several detention facilities. You need to locate at which one the person is being held before you can post the person’s bail.
You then need to find out if the person has been formally arraigned. If the defendant has been arrested on a weekend or holiday, he or she could have to wait until the next business day to be arraigned. You may have to delay bonding this person out of jail for one or two days.
Once you learn how much bail or bond is required to get the person out of jail, you can decide if you need to contact a bail bonds service. It can be wise call a bail bondsman if you do not have the money to front for your friend or relative’s bail. You also can contact a bail bonds service if you do not want to put up any of your own money or property to secure the person’s bail money.
The bail bondsman will enter into a contract with the defendant rather than you if you choose. However, you can ensure that the bondsman arrives quickly to the jail facility to get your friend or loved one out of police custody as quickly as possible.
Can You Bail Someone Out at Night?
Bail bonds services typically have someone on call around-the-clock to bail people out of jail. However, the fact that a bail bonds agent is available anytime does not necessarily mean that the defendant can be released during the overnight or weekend hours. The ability for the person to be bailed out of jail will depend on factors like the policies of the arresting agency, the speed of the booking and arraignment processes, and the availability of acceptable means for posting a bail bond to get the person out of jail.
Some jurisdictions, for example, only do arraignments once a day. If the defendant is arrested after the court has finished arraignments for the day, he or she must wait until the next business day to appear before the judge. The person cannot be bailed out that evening in that instance.
Alternatively, larger jurisdictions do arraignments several times a day. If the defendant appears in court early enough in the day, he or she can be bailed out that afternoon or evening as soon as bail or bond can be raised to pay the court.
Before you go the jail facility to bail someone out of jail at night, you need to find out if the facility allows for the posting of bonds after hours. You do not want to waste your time going to the jail, only to find out that the defendant still has to appear in arraignment court and find out what if any bail order will be issued for him or her.
How Long Do You Stay in Jail if You Cannot Make Bail?
If you cannot make your bail, you have no choice but to stay in jail until your next court date. The amount of time that you will remain in jail depends on what kind of crime that you have been charged with.
It also will depend on whether or not that you have a prior criminal history or pose any kind of risk to the community. If the judge decides that you cannot be released on your own recognizance, you must remain in police custody for as long as you cannot post bail or until you appear next in court.
For crimes like driving under the influence or shoplifting, your stay in jail will be relatively short if you cannot post your bond or bail. Most defendants in these types of cases remain in custody for less than a week before they appear in court and face sentencing.
If you have been charged with a more serious offense like murder or rape, you can remain in jail for months before your case appears on the court docket. Chances are that if you cannot afford to post bail or bond, you also cannot afford to hire your own attorney.
The court has the obligation of providing you with a public defender and making sure that you can participate in your own defense. This process can take several weeks or longer, during which you will remain in jail if you cannot pay your bond or bail amount.
How Much Does a Bail Bond Cost?
A bail bond typically costs 10 percent of the bail amount that the arraignment judge orders for a defendant. If your bail amount is set at $5000, for example, you must pay at least $500 in order to get out of jail before your next court date.
If you get that money from a bail bonds agent, you must agree to pay the bail bonds service all of the expenses and fees that come with putting up the money for your release. In addition to paying the money for your bond, the bail bonds agent will also secure the rest of your bail with some sort of collateral like your income, life insurance, real estate, car or some other type of asset that can be sold if need be.
If you appear in court on time on all of the required dates, you will get the full amount of your bail minus administrative fees returned to you. However, if you buy a bail bond, you forfeit the 10 percent of your bail as a profit to the bail bonds company. The collateral that you put up to secure the rest of your bail will also be returned to you.
If you fail to show up for your court dates, the bond will be dissolved, and the bonds service will seize and sell your collateral. You also will have a new warrant issued for your arrest for jumping bail or failing to comply with the terms of your bond contract.
What is a Cash Bond?
A cash bond is a bond that the court will only accept in the form of cash. It must be for the full amount of bail and not be a bond that is secured by collateral. It also cannot be a signature bond or ROR. The defendant with a cash bond will only be released from police custody after posting his or her bond in cash or by check or debit or credit card.
A cash bond is typical for defendants who are a low flight risk and pose little danger to the community. It is typically the result of the person having a history of not paying fines in prior court cases. It guarantees that the court will receive payment in full even if the person does not show up to any more court proceedings for the case.
A cash bond can be posted by the defendant or by one of his or her friends or relatives. It can also be posted by a bail bondsman if the person does not have the money in his or her bank account or an asset that can be relinquished right away to the court. The bail bondsman must offer cash bonds, however, and be able to pay the money in one of the payment forms allowed by the court.
What is a Bail Bondsman?
A bail bondsman is a person, agency or corporation that acts as a surety between a defendant and the court. This entity pledges money or property to the court to ensure that the defendant shows up in court for all of his or her court dates. Bail bondsmen are almost entirely exclusive to the U.S. because most other countries outlaw bounty hunting.
Out of the 50 states, 32 require bail bondsmen to be trained and licensed before they can act as a surety for defendants. The remaining 18 states allow virtually anyone to work as a bail bonds recovery agent.
In their official capacities, bail bondsmen can pay money for clients’ bonds to secure their releases from jail. They also have the legal right to ask a court to issue an arrest warrant if a defendant fails to appear for court or does not make payments on his or her bond debt.
Bail bondsmen work closely with law enforcement agencies in the community to protect the public from criminals. They also coordinate with law enforcement to track, arrest and jail criminals who have jumped bail and failed to appear in court or comply with their sentencing. Many of them work around-the-clock and are on call on weekends, during the overnights and on all major holidays.
How to Find a Bail Bondsman
When you, a friend or relative needs the services of a professional bail bondsman, you have a number of options for finding one near you. Your easiest option would be to ask for suggestions from law enforcement or detention officers.
These officers many times work closely with bail bonds services and know which ones in the area are the most trustworthy and affordable. They also can give suggestions for how to get your bail amount lowered so that you can more readily afford to pay it.
You can also ask your defense lawyer for help in finding a bail bonds agent. Defense lawyers also work closely with bail bond agencies. They can advise you about which one to contact and may also be able to broker a deal with the bail agency.
Your last option would be to read online reviews of local bail bonds services. You want to contact those that have the best client ratings.
It can work in your favor to avoid those that offer cheap prices. The adage of getting what you pay for rings true when hiring a bail bonds agent. Cheap bond rates indicate that the agency offers sub-par services, has less experience than other bail bond agencies or has a worse reputation that its competition.
These methods are the easiest and most readily available to you for finding a bail bonds service in your city. They allow you to get in contact with a professional agent who can post your bond quickly to get you out of jail.
Getting out of jail many times requires you to pay some sort of bail or bond to secure your freedom. This amount of money can be more than you have available in your bank account or liquid assets. You can avoid staying in jail for weeks or months by contacting a professional bail bondsman to post your bail or bond for you.