If you or a loved one has been arrested for a crime, especially a serious offense, you will most likely need to secure a bail bond to be released from custody. Most people are familiar with bail bonds from television shows, movies, and commercials.
What is a Bail?
Bail means the release of a defendant or arrestee after an arrest and before the end of a criminal case. The defendant or arrestee agrees to pay money to the court, ensuring that they return to court for the remainder of the criminal justice process. When the defendant attends their scheduled court date, as stated in the agreement, he or she gets their money back.
If the defendant cannot pay the amount of the bail, they will not be released until the court date and trial. Since trials typically take months to start after the initial arrest, being unable to post bail can make a person’s life quite difficult.
The Bail Bond System
Bail bonds are similar to a personal loan. Once you put down a small percentage of the total amount, a bail bondsman—similar to a loan officer—covers the rest of the money required to post bail.
For example, if your bail is $15,000, you or a family member would need to make a deposit of $2,000. The bail bondsman would then give you the $15,000 needed for your bail.
Keep in mind, most bail companies make it mandatory to offer some sort of collateral to fulfill the deal. This includes items such as the deed to your home, pink slip to your car, or a piece of jewelry. The collateral is used to secure the bail bonds’ loan in the event you fail to attend your appointed court hearing, in which case you would not get your money back.
As soon as the trial is over, and you obtain your money back from the court, the money is returned to the bail bond company. Due to the inherent financial risks associated with lending bail money, bail bond companies need to take extra precautions to ensure the defendant or arrestee attends all court dates.
The following are additional precautions bail bond companies take:
- Have a family member or friend provide the required collateral since bail bondsmen often think the defendant will be less likely to miss a court date if a loved one’s money or property is on the line.
- Contact the defendant before each court date to make sure they are aware.
- Require the defendant to make periodic check-ins at their bail bond office to make sure they haven’t skipped town.