It’s two in the morning and suddenly your phone rings. It’s one of your good friends who perhaps found himself with a little too much to drink and is now enjoying the hospitality of local law enforcement. He wants you to come and bail him out of jail but how? Here are a few tips to help you navigate through the process.
Unless you happen to have a large amount of cash at your disposal you will probably need the help of a bail bondsman to get your friend out of jail. A bail bondsman or agent will charge around a 10% non-refundable fee of the whole bail amount and will pay the remaining bond for the defendant. Sometimes the remaining amount of the bond has to be covered by either the defendant or whoever signs the bond by a form of collateral. This collateral can be the title to a piece of property, a home, or a car. Other will allow a no collateral bond or a signature bond. In some cases if you don’t have the full 10% the bail bond agent will allow you to make payment arrangements through a payment plan.
Finding out what types of bonds a bail Bond Company will provide should be one of the first questions you ask when you pull out the yellow pages and start searching for one. Before you start calling the bond agencies though; you need to gather some information from your friend. This information should include full name, date of birth, what the charges are, where they are being held, and the amount of bail needed. After gathering all the required information then you can start calling local licensed bond agencies to see what their individual policies are. When talking to the bail bond agent is sure to ask about any other fees such as mileage to the jail or fees for phone calls. Also be sure to check on what methods of payment they will accept and what amount they will need up front.
After deciding on a bond agent they will then take all the information you gathered from the defendant (name, date of birth, and offense) and run a background check or criminal history on them. This will help them decide whether or not they want to assume the risk of putting up the full amount for the bond. If you are co-signing for the bond there is a good chance they will run a check on you as well. Assuming the bond agent decides you are trust worthy they will then tell you when to meet them at the jail and how much money to bring with you in order to bail out your friend. Once the money has changed hands and the papers have been signed the bond agent will get your friend released from jail.
After bailing out your friend the bond agent will make sure that both you and the defendant are fully aware of when the next court appearance will be. If the defendant fails to appear in court then they (or you if you signed on the bond) are responsible for the full amount of the bail the bonding agent put up. Be sure to think very carefully about who you are signing on a bond for so that you don’t get entangled in a financial nightmare.