When it comes to unexpected situations, you are really never prepared for them.
You get a phone call late at night from a frantic loved one or friend, explaining they have been arrested and taken to jail. After the initial shock and confusion wears off, the next thing you may think about is how you can help get them released from jail as quickly as possible.
Fortunately, a bail bondsman is typically the faster and easiest way to get your friend or loved one out of jail until their case is settled or they go to trial. In the event you experience this type of situation, you need to understand how the bail bond system works.
Bail is a term that describes the release of a defendant or arrestee after an arrest before the end of a criminal case. The defendant or arrestee agrees to pay money to the court to ensure that they return to court for the remainder of the criminal justice process.
How Bail is Set
As soon as the arrest occurs, the arrestee is immediately booked to jail. Once in jail, all of his or her personal information is recorded in the police department’s computer and database and all of his or her personal items are impound. Once he or she is booked, he or she is permitted to make one phone call, and then placed into a jail cell.
Next, the hearing will be scheduled, in which the judge will decide what the amount of the bail will be. This typically occurs within 48 hours after arrest.
How Bail Bonds Work
Bail bonds act as a personal loan. After putting down a small percentage for the total amount, a bail bondsman—similar to a loan officer—covers the rest of the money needed for bail.
For instance, if your bail is $20,000, you or a family member would need to make a deposit of $2,000. The bail bondsman would then give you the $20,000 required to “post bail.”
Furthermore, most bail companies require you provide them with some type of collateral as well. This includes a deed to your home, pick slip to your vehicle, or item of jewelry. The collateral is used 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. Once the trial is over, and you receive your money back from the court, the money is returned to the bail bond company who provided your bail.
Since there are inherent financial risks the bail bondsman and bail bond company must take because of this loan, they will often take additional precautions to ensure the defendant attends all court dates. The bail bondsman wants to make sure his or her company receives back all the bail money they provided.
The bail bond companies will frequently do the following:
- Have a relative or friend put up the required collateral for the bond since bail bondsman typically believe the defendant will be less likely to miss a court date since their relative’s or friend’s property or money is on the line.
- Call the defendant before each court date.
- Require the defendant to make periodic check-ins at their bail bond office to ensure they haven’t skipped town.