A Guide to Posting Bail for a Friend or Family Member
You have good friends. You want to help them in any way that you can. Does this mean that you’re willing to post bail for them? If your answer is yes, then you want to read on and know exactly what you’re getting into if you post bail for a friend or family member.
Bail is paying something, usually it’s money, that someone who is arrested will give the court to guarantee that she or he will show up in the future for court, even when they’ve been released. If the person who is bailed out does not show up for their hearings, the bail may be kept by the court and a warrant may be issued for their arrest.
If the person under arrest is unable to pay that amount of bail that the judge sets, a family member or friend can pay on their behalf.
If a person pays on their behalf, and the person doesn’t show up, the person who paid is going to lose the money they paid.
Figure Out the Kind of Bail
There are different kinds of bail the judge might set for someone in jail. These different types are ones that a judge could accept.
- Money payment – Generally there is a dollar amount that is set that a friend or the defendant has to pay so that the defendant gets out. The money amount is going to widely vary on the crime the person’s been charged with.
- Signature bond – This is another bond type which lets someone that has been arrested to get out of jail and not have to pay any type of money for their bail. If this is allowed by a judge, it’s possible the defendant will get out without paying if they sign something stating they’ll appear for any of the required hearings and court dates. There are some states where it’s required that you have to pay a small court fee as well as the signature of the defendant. If someone is given this type of bond, chances are there won’t be any fees that have to be paid unless there is a request for money from the judge as well.
- Property bond – This type of bond allows a person who is in jail to use a property deed owned by them, their friend or family member as security. This will ensure the person will go back to their later hearings. This means that rather than a signature or money for collateral, the security will be the property. If this type of bond is offered by the judge, you only will have the ability to pay on their behalf if you’re the owner of a property such as a home.
Find Help for Paying
Since bond can get to be really expensive, there are ways that defendants can make bail and they don’t have to put the whole amount up personally. Bail bonds let someone to only pay a portion of the amount rather than the entire thing. If you’re looking to help your friend or family member but you’re unable to pay the whole amount, figure out whether or not the court will allow a public or private bail bond.
- Private bail bond – This type of bonds are permitted in a lot of states, but not allowed in Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon or Wisconsin. In the other states where they are permitted, bail is set by a judge and a bondsman is paid by someone around 10% of the whole bail amount for insurance. If the defendant goes to court, the money is kept by the bondsman. If they don’t, the whole amount is given to court.
- Public bail bond – In those states where private companies aren’t allowed to loan bond money, bond payments are handled by the court. For example, in the state of Wisconsin, the bail’s set by the judge and then that amount is paid direct to court. If the person shows up, the court will fully refund the money. If they don’t, the money is used for defraying the cost to taxpayers and for paying restitution.
Using Bail Bondsmen
Gather the Information About the Bail
In the majority of cases, the bail of a defendant is going to be set for a particular money amount and usually someone who is close to the person, like a member of their family, will be willing to pay the amount so that the person is freed. If you’re thinking about paying for your friend to be free, be sure you’re thinking about the following things.
- The bond terms – Decide if you’re going to have to pay the bail’s whole amount, who you’ll have to pay, and what is going to happen if the person doesn’t come to their court dates.
- Who’s responsible – Decide who is going to be responsible for that money if the person is not showing up for their court date or they are unable to be found. If you’re using a bondsman in order to pay for the bail of your friend, that agent will usually agree to take responsibility for that money if the agent is unable to find your friend for court. But if they’re unable to be found, the bondsman will usually come after the defendant’s family so they’re able to get that money the agent had to pay because the defendant didn’t show.
- How the Bail Was Set – The bond amount defendants have to pay will depend on the bail amount set by a judge. Become familiar with the court practices in your area to decide how the judges are assessing jail based on the crime’s severity. Know that if the defendant is thought to be a risk for fleeing, either the judge will raise the bail to a really high amount or the bail will be denied period. If this happens, you’re not going to be able to post bail even if you have the money to do it.
Locate a Bondsman
Bail bondsmen or agents are any businesses or individuals that are going to act as sureties and pledge property or money as bail in exchange for saying that the defendant’s going to appear for their court case. Unlike property bonds, where a person who owns property usually is one of the defendant’s family members, bail bondsman is generally a business representative and doesn’t personally know the defendant.
- The agents are paid a fee in order to front money to court. The fee they charge is generally 10% when it’s a charge of the state and 15% when it’s a federal, and some of the states require a minimal fee amount so that the bond’s full amount is posted. This is a nonrefundable fee and it’s the compensation for a bond agent in exchange for the services they provide.
- For bail amounts that are large, the bond agents generally can get security against either the assets of the defendant or the individuals who are helping them. An example is if someone needs a bond of $150,000 and the person going to the bondsman has a home, the agent’s going to charge a fee of $15,000 and then take out a mortgage on the house for the complete bond penal sum. You should consider when you are working with a bondsman if you’re additional security for that amount you’re borrowing.
- Before you work with an agent, ask if you can see their identification and license. This will help you ensure that they’re legitimate. When you’re done, be sure you’re getting signed document copies and receipts.
- Ask if there is a payment plan they can offer to you. Many bail bondsmen provide options for payment plans based on your personal credit history. Even though its possible they aren’t going to give you any deals, you won’t know if you don’t ask.
Know the Possible Consequences
There is always a chance that your friend isn’t going to appear for their court case. If this happens, the agent is permitted by contractual arrangement or law to bring them to the court’s jurisdiction so they can recover that money that has been paid on their behalf. This is usually done by way of using one of the country’s bounty hunters. That is why it’s important to ensure that the person is going to attend their court proceedings once they have been released.
- Even when you’re almost positive that the person is going to comply with the bail’s terms, remember that when they’re charged with committing a crime that it’s very stressful. Because of this, people who would never do something like jump bail may do things that they’d never do otherwise, like blow off a court hearing.
- In addition, an agent might sue you so that they’re collecting the additional money that has been spent, even when you don’t know why the person didn’t appear in court.
- When you are posting bail for a defendant, you’re guaranteeing that they’re going to attend their court case. That’s why it’s important to only do this if you completely trust the person.
These are the things that you should know when you agree to post bail for someone. When you are posting bail for another person, you are taking on a huge responsibility. It’s a good idea to know what could happen and what the repercussions could be.
We are located within walking distance of the Lee County and Hendry County Jails. We offer prompt, courteous services to obtain the quick release of our clients from Southwest Florida detention facilities. We also offer bond postings outside our local area through our Surety Network. We accept all major credit cards, Western Union, and personal checks.