If you have been arrested for a crime, you will likely need to bail yourself out of jail. If it is a minor misdemeanor offense and you don't have a lengthy criminal record, the judge will usually allow you to be released on your own recognizance, which is basically signing a piece of paper promising to show back up for the next court hearing.
If it is a more serious felony charge, the prosecutor will ask for a bond. This is usually cash, but it can also be satisfied with property. If you don't have the money, you can ask your family and friends, but people are often reluctant to risk their money. Your best bet is to have a family member or friend contact a bail bond company. Here's what you should know.
What Information Does The Bail Bond Company Need?
The bail bondsman will need to know where the person is incarcerated, the booking number, the charges, and the amount the judge set bail at.
How Much Does A Bail Bond Cost?
The surcharge percentage the bail bond company charges is usually determined by individual state laws. A fee of 10 percent for charges brought by the state or 15 percent if they are federal charges is common.
Do You Need Good Credit To Get A Bail Bond?
Most of the time, your credit won't matter. This is because the majority of bail bond companies will require their fee to be paid upfront. For example, if the bail is set at $25,000 for state charges, the bail bondsman will require $2,500. Because many people don't have even the 10 percent, some bail bond companies will set up payment arrangements.
What Happens If The Defendant Doesn't Show Up To Court?
If the person doesn't show up for their court appearance, they run the risk of facing an additional charge—bail jumping. If the original charge is a misdemeanor, the bail jumping charge will also be a misdemeanor. If the original charge is a felony, then they will tack on a felony bail jumping charge.
As for the bail bond, if the accused doesn't appear, the bail bond is in default. If a family member or friend signs the bail bond rather than the accused himself, they are the ones responsible for repayment. If any collateral was used, such as real estate, they will also lose that. Any additional fees, such as the bail bondsman's expenses for tracking down the fugitive, will also be billed to you. Obviously, these are important considerations when deciding if you want to help with bail or not. If the accused signs the bail bond contract, they are held responsible for repayment and any additional fees.