Bail bonds

Bail bonds

You must have hears the term “Bail bond” if a person in your neighborhood or family has faced an arrest. This is a simple, yet complicated, legal process that gives rise to many misconceptions among people in general. However, it is indeed a fast and effective service that can be of immense help to an arrested person as well as his or her family members.

What is bail?

It refers to some type of property, monetary or otherwise, that a person detained for any crime needs to deposit or pledge to a court. The deposit is made on condition that the accused would be released from detention and allowed to live freely until the date for trial comes up. Once the accused shows up on the date for trial and the case is resolved, the property is returned. If the person escapes or fails to appear for trial due to some reason, the bail is forfeited.

How to Post Bail?

posting bailBails can be posted in two ways:

The defendant (accused) can pay the required bail out of his/her own pockets or borrow the amount from friends or family members.

The defendant or any of his well-wishers can avail the services of a bail bond agency. The agency can pay the bail in return for a fee and collateral. This type of a bail is known as a bail bond. In exchange for this service, the individual who needs the bail bond has to secure the loan typically with any type of security deposit that can be used as collateral. He or she also has to pay a non-refundable fee to the bail bondsman which is approximately 10% of the entire bail amount. This fee is non-refundable although the collateral is given back if the defendant appears for trial.

What are Bail bonds?

The term refers to an amount of money that must be confiscated by a bondsman if a person accused of a crime fails to appear for trial in court. If the arrested person appears for the court proceedings, the amount will be returned once the case is over.

History of Bail Bonds

In the U.S., the business of modern bail bonds was first established in 1898 in San Francisco. It was set up by Tom and Peter P. McDonough. Under this system, an individual has to pay a part of the bail amount specified by a court to professional bondsmen. These professional bonds agents pay the entire bail amount as a surety of the presence of the accused in court.

Types of Bail Bonds

There are different types of bail bonds that can be used to release a person who gets arrested for a crime. The type of the bond issued as well as its availability depends on individual cases. Each bond has a special purpose.

Some of the main forms of bail bond are:

Federal bail bonds

These need to be posted when a person is charged with committing a federal crime. These are generally pricier than other bail types. Naturally, it makes sense to avail the services of a good bail bondsman who can save you a lot of money and get your loved one released very soon.

Immigration bonds

These bails are used for individuals charged with offenses involving foreign nationals. These are highly complicated in nature and typically involve much risk for bondsmen. These are usually more expensive and tough to obtain.

Cash bonds

These are simple cash payments or bail payment made through cash. Some people prefer simple cash payment for their bail. Although the money is returned eventually, this can create some immediate monetary problem for the person posting the bail.

Surety bail bonds

These include signing various contracts with a bail agent. The contracts contain stipulations for release, like drug treatment programs. These types of bonds generally require some type of collateral to be posted for the bail amount.

Property bail bonds

In certain jurisdictions, courts allow some type of property to be posted for bail. The property that is submitted generally need to be two times more than the value of the imposed bail. This type of bail involves many complicated procedures and forms.

Bail Bond Dangers

While bail bonds undoubtedly have some excellent benefits to offer, there are also certain associated problems. If you are appearing as a co-signer or signing the bond yourself, here are some issues that you should keep in mind.

Bond Withdrawal

Under the law, a bail bondsman is allowed to withdraw the submitted bail amount for a special reason or even without it. In such cases, you have to post a new bond. Failing this, you may be immediately incarcerated. You may seek the service of another bail agent. However, bail bond agents typically tend to avoid clients whose initial bond has been withdrawn by another company.

Revocation Penalties

This refers to the penalties faced on revocation of the bond, due to reasons like violation of the terms and conditions of the bail bond or missing of a court date. If the bond is revoked, the defendant may be imprisoned and made to pay the entire amount of the actual bond. The defendant cannot expect to be released until the full bail amount has been paid and a new bond posted. In such cases, the defendant is also not likely to avail another bail bond due to revocation of the first.

Liability of Co-signer

A Co-signer is often required for signing bonds, except those involving amounts small enough to be under $500. If the bond of the defendant is revoked, the Co-signer can be held responsible for paying the entire bail amount set by the court along with the other signee. The court can confiscate the home or automobile of the co-signer to collect the total bail amount.

Misconceptions about Bail bonds

Misconception

Misconception

Bail bonds are a complicated section of legal procedure. Naturally, they can be quite confusing for some people. There are many misconceptions associated to this process.

  • Many people hold that bail bonds are negotiable. In reality, only the judge handling the case of your defendant has the power to fix the bail amount.
  • There also exists a common misconception that a high rate of interest will be charged over the service fee charged by the bail bondsmen. The laws governing the bail process also specify the service fee that has to be paid to a bail bondsman. This indicates that bondsmen are not authorized to charge any interest rate.
  • People signing the bail bond also believe their duty ends with the posting of the bail amount. But getting released from jail does not in any way that the case is over for either the defendant or the signee. The accused should make regular appearances in court on appointed dates to prove he or she is innocent. Jumping bail and not showing up for trial automatically makes the accused look guilty. This can weaken his or her case. The signee should make sure that the defendant attends all the scheduled court dates.

Eligibility Factors for Bail Bonds

Some of the main qualifying factors for bail bonds include:

  • Credit history
  • Home ownership
  • Employment
  • Length of time living in the state
  • History of arrest of the defendant
  • The type of crime (that the accused is charged with)

Of these, credit history and home ownership are the two main factors considered by any bail bonds company. If you have a good credit and pay your bills on time, you will stand a good chance. The same can be said if you are a homeowner. Having your own home signifies that you are financially well-off and can afford the bail amount as well as the collateral in case the defendant makes an escape. People who meet all or at least some of the eligibility factors are not likely to have any problem in finding willing bail bonds agents or receiving a financing plan for bail bonds.

How to Choose a Bail Bonds Company?

Finding a loved one arrested can be a devastating experience for any person. However, the first thing you should do in such cases is to arrange for an immediate release of your dear one. Getting the services of a good bail bond company can help you get this done. Here are some steps that you can use to find a good bail bonds agency.

Make an online search

This is the easiest but most ignored approach to finding a good bail agency. These days, most bail agencies have their official website that you can browse through. The companies having websites with great information are the ones that you should call up. Quickly make a list of the agencies that you can approach. Go through reviews on them in various forums and websites. Agencies with the best reviews should be your pick.

Ask many questions

Once you have zeroed in on an agency, call up its customer care and ask a lot of questions. Try to know about the working procedure, charges and time taken by the firm to get a person released. If the company answers all your queries with time and care, you can settle for its services. If they act impatient, avoid your queries or talk only about signing papers and paying money, it is best for you to try another bail agent.

Check the license

While on the phone, ask for the license number of the bail bonds agency. Then visit the official website of the California Department of Insurance and search for the number. The site will let you know whether the agency is actually licensed or not. You can also determine whether the license has a good worth.

Check the Better Business Bureau Symbol or Rating

Check whether the official site of the agency has the Better Business Bureau (BBB) symbol. Some sites do not have this symbol. So you can instead visit the BBB website and check the rating of the agency. Any bail agency with a rating lower than A should be avoided. A lower grade indicates that the company has a poor quality and a below-par customer service.

Avoid “Zero down” sites

The websites of various bail agencies put up advertisements with statements like Zero down, 5% bail or 5% down. If you find such statements, avoid such sites. Such companies are most probably engaged in activities known as “bait and switch”. Once you are in, they will reveal their real terms and conditions.

Check the customer service

Apart from the customer service, you should also check whether the agency that you are going for offers a 24X7 helpline to call and seek advice from. Many bail agencies offer round-the-clock hotline services to their clients. Availing the services of such an agency can help you get advice as and when you want.

agency1Advantages of Bail Bond Agencies

Using the services of bail bond agencies has its various advantages, which are:

Affordability

Bail amounts are often high enough to be paid. Friends or family members of defendants often have to borrow bail money from their dear ones, which can be extremely embarrassing. Bank loans have to be approved and even after the amount is sanctioned, applicants must pay high rate of interest later. The amount that you have to pay bail agencies for the release of your defendant is no more than a percentage of the actual bail amount set by the court. Many agencies also offer affordable services like low down payments and multiple payment options.

Quick services

Bail agencies have an in-depth knowledge about the legal system. They can potentially reduce the bail amount and also provide applicants with information about court and bail procedures. They also ensure that the defendant is released in the least-possible time period. Bail bond agencies are said to be more effective than any other service to release an arrested person. Being held up for a long time can make accused persons lose their jobs, children or home. It can also weaken their case. Quick release can help detainees return to their normal life and carry out daily activities until the time for their trial comes up. Many inmates suffer deep psychological trauma or even get killed due to prison violence.

Immediate arrangement of money

Many honest people having their loved ones detained for a crime fail to secure bail due to shortage of money. Bail agencies are a blessing to such people. They pay the bail and arrange for the immediate release of a defendant. This is precisely the reason why the bail bond system had been formed in the first place.

Facts about Bail Bonds

Know some important facts associated to bail bonds:

  • This service, or agreement, involves four parties. These include the person signing the bail, the co-signer, the bail bond agency and the court where the case is pending. It also involves the defendant to an extent, although he or she is not directly involved in the paperwork. However, the entire process revolves around the accused person. The success of the bail and its return depends on the future conduct of the detainee.
  • Bail bond agencies can post bail in court, at the department of county sheriff or at the departments of the city police.
  • The term “Indemnitor” or “Signer” refers to the person signing the bail bond for the release of the defendant. On rare occasions, a bail bond agency agrees to accept the defendant as the signer. Generally, someone close to the accused person has to be the indemnitor.
  • In some cases, it may be necessary to pay collateral in order to secure a bail bond. However, collateral may not be required if a person decides to pay off the full bail amount at one go. This, of course, depends on the laws of the state where the case is being handled.
  • Some agencies provide online bail bond services. Defendants who require bail bonds can contact any of these online agencies and fill the paperwork over the internet. Online services require payment by money transfers or credit cards.
  • The term “Bail Bonds Premium” refers to the cost of transaction with the bail agency or the fee charged by a bail bond company. This is usually 10% of the entire bail amount. For instance, the premium will be $1,000 for a bond of $10,000.

Release on Own Recognizance Bail Bond

This is a bond used for people who are first-time offenders, meaning they do not have any history of a crime in the past. This bail can also be issued for:

  • People committing non-violent crimes
  • Defendants who have good social standing for years
  • Accused people who have an honorable profession or business
  • Individuals having stable family and strong ties with the community

The bail is issued due to the fact that there is lesser risk for such defendants to jump bail. Such individuals usually have a strong motivation to attend trial and clear the charges leveled against them.

Bail bonds are a blessing for people who face shortage of money to be the only problem in securing immediate release of their loved ones. If you or any of your loved ones is going through the harrowing experience of detention, it is essential for you to seek the services of a licensed bail bond agency that provides reliable services. When the detention of your loved one is concerned, every minute counts and the faster you can secure a bail the better it will be for your defendant.

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