How Do Bail Bonds Work?

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What is a Bail Bond?

You may have heard the phrase “posting bail” or read news reports of people accused of crimes being held with a specific bail amount. But what exactly is bail, and more importantly, what is a bail bond? The term bail refers to a specific quantity of money, typically set by a judge, to secure an individual’s release from jail or other form of short term holding.

Bail is set before a trial to allow the accused a chance to return to normal life while waiting for trial. Being granted a bail amount is contingent on the outcome of a bail hearing where factors such as physical and mental condition, financial resources, family ties, drug and alcohol history, and criminal history are considered. A judge will either set a bail amount based on these factors, or decide that for the safety of the community, the accused needs to be held without bail until the time of the trial.

Bail Must then Be Paid

Once a bail amount has been set, bail must be “posted”, meaning that the bail must be paid in full, or at least pay a set percentage of the amount. This amount is returned once the accused appears in court on the set court day, or is forfeited if the accused attempts to avoid appearing in court. Bail amounts vary based on the severity of the crime, and can be quite large and are often difficult for individuals or families to pay.

Bail Bond Agents Can Also be Useful

When one finds that they cannot pay the bail amount, there are some options available, such as using property (real estate, cars, and jewelry) however, many opt for the services of a bail bond agent. Bail bond agents post bail for individuals, charging the individual a percentage, or premium, of the set bail value. This premium is non refundable, and will be kept by the bail bond agent, or bail bondsman, as it is the fee that they charged to take the risk of posting bail for the accused. Bail bond premiums can vary from agency to agency, however, bail bond premiums are generally regulated by state law and legislature.

These laws are in place to ensure that bail bond agents cannot discriminate against people based on income. Everyone should have equal access when posting bail. It should be noted that some bail bondsman can offer discounted premiums in special cases, although these discounted rates are set by the state and should always be inquired about. When selecting a bail bondsman it is imperative to ask about the rate or amount of the premium and to compare premium rates with other local bail bond agents.

Bail bonds can be a life saver, and get you or a loved one out of jail and back into everyday life while they await their court date. If you cannot afford to post bail you should seriously consider getting in touch with your local bail bond agent to see about posting your bail as soon as possible. Nobody wants to spend any time in jail, and with bail bonds, you or a loved one won’t have to.