Small Business Brief

Safety & Loss Prevention

5 Things You Need to Know Before Hiring a Bail Bondsman

The work of a bail bondsman can be quite confusing if you’re not properly educated in the world of bail and bail bonds. Here are 5 things you should know before you even consider hiring your own bail bondsman!

If you’ve never been to jail, the first time you are booked in will be a shock. Regardless if you’re guilty, innocent, know people ‘on the inside,’ or think your connections can get you out of the charge… you will want to be released quickly.

Even simple charges that land you in jail can have high bonds. Something like a DUI can cost a couple thousand to ensure your release–and more serious charges?

Well, bond for those types of charges can run tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is a problem for most people as they don’t have that kind of cash laying around.

Luckily, calling a bail bondsman is always an option. We are going to talk you through 5 things to know about bonding out of jail by way of bail bond. Keep reading for more!

1. Not All Bail Bondsmen Are Created Equal

Let’s start by saying that not all bail bondsmen are shysters. Some are stand up people running legitimate businesses. Others can be shady and smooth-talking in order to make you think they have your interests at heart.

Legitimate bondsmen may have slightly higher rates than other companies because they have overhead costs to meet that include their licensing and insurance. However, this doesn’t mean that they should be charging you fees upwards of 20%.

On the other side of this, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

The best thing to do before needing a bondsman is to learn more about their company and practices before you need them.

2. Breaking Down Bail and Bonds

When a bondsman gets you released from jail, they are paying your bail in exchange for your freedom. Bail is set by the judge and acts as an insurance policy for a person to show up to their court date.

If your bail is $10000, the bondsman will pay the court that amount. The only thing you will owe the bonding company is about 10% of the $10000.

The percentage owed can vary from company to company and from state to state. This would be a non-refundable amount and is how bondsmen make their money.

3. Bounty Hunting is Different Than TV

It might seem odd that bail bonding companies can exist by giving the court a large amount of money for your freedom. It is a bit more complicated than this simple notion.

When someone pays their own bail, they do so with the realization that the money gets returned after court. In the case of bond companies, the money gets returned when their client shows up.

This is where bounty hunting can come into play. Basically, if the accused person misses their court date, the bondsman has the responsibility of finding that person and bringing them to jail.

Although many states allow fugitive recovery for failure to appear cases, a few states don’t allow it at all or will regulate this activity.

Many times, bail bondsmen let the court and police follow up with fugitive clients. It is also common for preventative measures to be put into place.

These preventative measures include GPS monitoring, drug screening, alcohol interlocks (for DUI charges,) and even periodic check-ins at the home. Of course, it is still possible for a client to go on the run but these measures make this far less likely.

4. Cash Isn’t Your Only Option

If the judge posted a very high bail for your charge, you will still have to come up with the 10% fee. Sometimes this isn’t an option because assets aren’t liquid or easily made into cash.

Luckily, bondsmen can often accept deeds to property or titles to vehicles as collateral. You’ll likely still have to pay a cash fee, but it will be smaller after the property is temporarily signed over.

The exception to cash not being your only option is if the court has demanded cash bail. In this event, the bail must be paid in cash by someone directly, not a bond company.

5. Jail Time Can Still Happen

It is possible that you’ll get to jail, be booked, and end up bonded out in a matter of hours. It is also possible that the booking process will take a long time and loved ones are unreachable.

Being charged for driving while intoxicated can also cause you to spend a bit more time in jail. Most often with these charges, alcohol levels must drop below a certain level before release.

Regardless of the situation, being prepared to spend a few hours or even a few days in jail is smart. You should also keep in mind that once you get in touch with a bondsman or loved one, paperwork has to be done and identities verified.

Although you might not want a working relationship with a bail bondsman, having one is a great back up plan. No one plans on being arrested, but at least if you’re charged with something else, you’ll have a plan of action, know who to call, and get out of jail a bit quicker.

Final Thoughts: Life Happens

Is it embarrassing to be arrested? Absolutely.

Does it happen? Unfortunately.

Are there ways around it? Of course: don’t break the law.

It isn’t the end of the world if you happen to be arrested for something, plenty of people have. The truth of the matter is, no one is perfect and sometimes people get accused of crimes they didn’t commit.

Thankfully, in the United States, people are assumed innocent until proven guilty. This means that the person charged with a crime doesn’t have to sit in jail until their day in court.

Just bear in mind though, getting out of jail does not mean you’ve been proven innocent. It is up to you to show up in court and have an attorney represent you.

After being proven innocent or completing any requirements from the judge, move on with your life. Try not to break any more laws. But, if you do, opt to use a bail bondsman that you know and trust.

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