Nobody likes to get a phone call in the middle of the night from a loved one asking to be bailed out of jail, particularly when it's a spouse, significant other, or co-parent. After taking a few brief moments to wake up and realize it's really happening and not just a bad dream, it's time to take action to get your loved one out of jail. If you don't have the money to pay the entire bail amount in cash, you will need to obtain a bail bond. Here's what that is and what you need to know to protect your financial situation while getting your loved one out jail.
What Is a Bail Bond?
Bail is the amount set by the court based on the crime and whether or not the defendant is a flight risk. If the bail amount is too high for the defendant or their co-signer to pay in full, they can go to a bail bond agent to get a bail bond. Depending on state laws, this requires the defendant or their co-signer to pay a certain percentage up front to the court, which is typically 10%.
For example, if bail is set at $100,000 and a 10% cash payment is required, you would need to pay $10,000 in cash. However, since most people don't have that amount of cash available to them at a moment's notice, bail bond lenders are available to provide loans to cover the bail bonds as long as there is collateral to secure the loan, such as a house or car.
What Is the Risk Either Way?
The risk to you if you use collateral in your name to bail your loved one out of jail depends on whether he or she will skip their trial date. If they don't appear at their court date, you could lose the property you used as collateral. Because of this, it's important that you keep tabs on the defendant and their court dates if you do decide to get a bail bond to get them out of jail.
Alternatively, if you don't help your loved one out and they remain in custody until their trial date, they could be at risk of many problems that are part and parcel to being imprisoned, including losing their job and their ability to pay housing costs, utility bills, and car payments. Therefore, the impact of remaining in jail during the pretrial phase may make it more financially challenging for you in the long run.
Which Bail Bondsman Should You Use?
Depending on where the arrest took place and where your loved one is being held, you may be either limited to selecting a particular bail bond lender or have a wide range of options available to you. If you do have several options to choose from, you'll want to invest a little time in researching them to make sure you are using a reputable bail bonds lender, which is also called a bail bondsman. The best way to do this is to speak with your loved one's attorney. He or she will likely have a good referral to a bail bond lender.
Of course, you should also make sure the bail bondsman is licensed and accredited, which can be accomplished by checking with the Better Business Bureau (BBB.org). You'll be able to see if anyone has made complaints against them, if anyone has sued them, and what their reputation is overall. For example, you should look for a bondsman with a good overall rating and few to no complaints against them.
Contact a local bail bonds company to learn more.
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