What is a Bail Bond?
A bail bond is a way for a defendant to pay the jail to get out of jail until their court date. If the defendant cannot afford bail, they must wait in jail until their court date.
In many jurisdictions and situations, you do have the option of paying the full amount of bail yourself. There are many offenses that have small bond amounts. If the jail accepts credit card payments, defendants are also able to charge the amount for a fee.
If the defendant can pay the full amount of the set bail, finding a way to pay the jail is another tricky task. When you are taken into custody, often your personal items will be taken from you. Large amounts of cash may be taken as evidence. Some jail locations will not accept credit cards. If they do, there is usually a large fee involved.
Defendants also have the option of contacting a bail agent. The reason many people choose to do this is because they only pay a portion of the bond upfront when using an agency. Many times, friends or relatives of the defendant may contact a bail agent on their behalf.
If you decide to hire a bail bondsmen or agent, they will write up a contract to ensure that you understand that you are responsible for the defendant showing up in all court proceedings. If the defendant does not show up, you will be responsible for the full amount of the bail.
How Do Bail Bonds Work?
Since arrests can happen at any time, bail bond agencies are typically open twenty-four hours a day. Many times, payment and paperwork can be completed electronically which can help expedite the process. The paperwork is a contract between the person posting bail and ensures that they fully understand that they are agreeing to be responsible for the defendant showing up to all court proceedings. The paperwork will also discuss what they have put on the line (some form of collateral) to ensure that person shows up in court.
The paperwork will also discuss the fees involved. When contacting a bail agent, they will need to know the full name of the defendant, the booking number and the charges they were brought in for, as well as the location of the jail they are being held. From there, the bail agent will bond the defendant out of jail. When the bail bondsmen is at the jail, they are given the court date, a receipt and all the paperwork involved so that the bail bondsmen has all the pertinent information to follow up with the case. This can take several hours depending on procedures and how busy the jail is.
If the defendant fails to show up to any court proceedings, it will be the responsibility of the bail agent to pay the full amount of bail to the court. From there, the bail agent will hire a bounty hunter to track down the defendant and take them back to jail. If the defendant fails to appear in court, the person who took out the bail bond can lose any collateral or have additional penalties depending on their contract.