How Do Bail Bonds Work? The Complete Guide

Jul 14, 2020 5:50 AM ET

Are you wondering how do bail bonds work exactly? If yes, you should check out our informative guide by clicking right here.

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Everyone in our great country has rights, even when you find yourself wearing a pair of police-patented bracelets.

When you are arrested, you do not surrender all of your rights. You have the right to a speedy trial, for example. You also have the privilege of bail, the opportunity to be free from jail as you wait for your trail.

Not everyone can afford bail, though. Thus we have bail bondsmen.

So, how do bail bonds work? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about bail bonds and bail bondsmen.

What Is a Bail Bond? 

Bail and bail bonds are not the same things. Bail is a type of insurance for the court. It increases the likelihood that an indicted individual will show up to court.

When a person is arrested and indicted for a crime, the judge will set a specific amount of money for bail. The indicted party must pay that amount of money for the courts to release them from jail until the time of the trial. When the party shows up to the trial, they receive the money back.

Usually, a judge will set the bail high to ensure that the party will want the money back and thus show up to court. The amount of bail depends on the severity of the crime.

If you cannot pay the bail money, you can get help from a bail bondsman who will then post a bail bond for you.

So then, what is a bail bond, you may wonder.

If you cannot afford bail and do not have any relatives or friends who will post bail for you, then you can contact a bail bondsman. The bail bondsman in effect will post bail for you. You will be borrowing money from the bail bondsman for a fee so you can post bail and be free until your trial.

How Do Bail Bonds Work? 

The bail bond process is simple.

The bail bondsman will charge you ten percent of your bail as a fee for borrowing money from them. Then, they will in turn post this ten percent as your bail. The court allows the bail bondsman to post ten percent of your bail as opposed to the entire amount.

The bondsman is taking a risk on you, believing you will show up to court. He takes the risk with a promise, though.

When you hire a bail bondsman, you also have to produce an asset equal to the bail money. This asset is the collateral against the loan you just took out with the bondsman. The asset is the bondsman’s assurance that you will show up to court.

If you do not have any assets great enough to equal your bond, your family members can offer up an asset as well. So, for example, if your mortgage isn’t big enough, a relative can offer their mortgage as collateral for your bail bond.

If you do not show up to court, you forfeit your bail. This means the ten percent the bail bondsman put down goes to the court, and the bondsman now owns your asset. He can sell it to gain back the money he just lost.

Furthermore, the court now allows the bail bondsman to hire a bounty hunter to find you. The bondsman is responsible for getting you to court, so he will do so through any means possible. That is how bail bonds work.

Not Always Legal

Bail bondsmen are in the business for profit. They earn ten percent of your bail money by the cash you give them when they vouch for you. They also provide a valuable service to individuals who need to get out of jail before trial to take care of business.

However, not every state supports the idea of bail bondsmen. Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon, and Wisconsin do not allow commercial bail bonds. They have systems that require deposits to the court rather than a payment to a private business. Some of the courts just trust that clients will return.

What Counts as Collateral? 

When you score a bail bondsman, you will need to put an asset of value up for collateral. Think about anything you own that might be valuable that a bondsman would want.

Collateral could be any one of the following items:

Credit Cards
Personal Credit
Bank Accounts
Real Estate

If you do not have anything of value, then you can ask a relative for help. When you show up to court, the bondsman will release the item you’ve put up for collateral, and you’ll have it back.

Discounted Fees

You might be hoping for a benevolent bail bondsman at this point. Can you find a deal on a bail bond? Do bondsmen take your situation into account and then offer a discount?

The rate you pay the bail agent depends on what your state allows. Each state has specific statutes and regulations. In some states, companies can charge eight percent legally. Other states require ten percent.

Be on the lookout for a fraudulent bail bondsman. Some bail bond companies will offer you a discount when they cannot reduce the rate legally. Then they end up charging you the full amount.

To avoid being taken advantage of, ask for a rate chart. This will let you see if the company is wrongly charging you.

Though a company cannot offer you a discounted fee, some bondsmen are less expensive than others. Each state determines what a bondsman can legally charge. The states license and regulate the bondsmen.

How To Get Reduced Bail

A judge determines the amount of bail based on the severity of your crime. You cannot really get a deal on bail by using a bail bondsman. They just determine the rate that you’ll pay them.

You can get a reduced bail, however, if you have an experienced Bail Bond Lawyer. A bail bond lawyer is up to date on recent bail bond laws and can make sure you receive the fairest bail possible.

Bail Out With a Bail Bond

You should now be able to answer the question, “how do bail bonds work?” Your newfound knowledge will help you or your loved ones that end up in a precarious situation.

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