If you’re in jail, posting bail can be a difficult task. You may not have all the cash you need to get out. So, what are your options? Do you sit in jail until your court date comes around?
If you want to post bail but don’t have all the money in cash, you could get a bail bond. If you aren’t sure what this is, or how to get started, here’s some bail bond information you should know before making any decisions.
Understand Your Charges
Before you dive into finding the right bail bond information, you need to understand what your charges are and how they relate to your bail bond. If bail is being set for you, you’re likely being charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.
There are three levels of charges in the justice system: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Infractions are typically small offenses such as a speeding ticket, jaywalking, or noise complaints. Usually, these are minor offenses that don’t require you to stand trial. You could pay a fine and be on your way. It’s pretty unlikely that you’d have to pay bail or post bond for an infraction.
The next level of charge you can have against you is a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that’s more severe than an infraction. Examples of misdemeanors include burglary, arson, and selling drugs. These misdemeanors can be broken down into classes as well, depending on the severity of the crime. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you may be released on your own recognizance or be required to post bond.
The highest level charge you can get is a felony. Examples of felonies include murder, kidnapping, treason, and terrorism. You can get released from jail if you are charged with a felony, however, you do need to post bail. Depending on your charges, your bail could be set in the millions. It depends on the severity of your charges and your criminal record.
Understanding what your charges are and how severe they are can help you make the best decision when it comes to bond. The more you know, the more you can prepare.
Know What Bail Bond Is
One of the most important pieces of bail bond information to know is what exactly it is.
Bail bonding happens when a defendant cannot pay their bail to get out of jail. Since they can’t post bail, they contact a bail bondsman or a bail bond company to help them pay.
Bail bonds are not a get-out-of-jail-free card. It’s putting actual cash and assets up for collateral so defendants have the chance to get out of jail until their trial date comes around.
Get Information On Your Bail Amount
When researching bail bond information, you need to know how much your bail is. That will determine how much your bail bond will be. Your bail amount depends on a number of factors. The largest factor is how severe your charges are. If you’re charged with a minor misdemeanor, your bail would likely be less than if you were charged with a first-degree felony.
How much your bail is will directly impact your bail bond process, as you’ll have to put some assets up as collateral. Knowing how much your bail is will help you determine what assets to put up.
Know How The Process Works
The most crucial part of researching bail bond information is having a firm understanding of how the bail bond process works. Once you are arrested and charged for a crime, a judge may set bail for you. Depending on your crime, your bail may be pretty expensive. If you can’t pay your bail, then you’ll be in jail until your court date.
Rather than stay in jail until you have to go court, you can post a bail bond. To do this, defendants can contact a bail bond company or a bail bondsman. Typically, the defendant has to pay at least 10% of the bail amount in cash. Then, they can post assets as collateral. If the defendant doesn’t have assets they can post, they can have relatives post assets to help.
Essentially, the defendant is asking the bondsman to vouch for them in the eyes of the justice system. The bail bond is held as an unwritten assumption that the defendant will appear in court. If the defendant does, then the bail bond can be resolved and the collateral can be returned. If the defendant doesn’t show up to court, then the bondsman is responsible for the full bail amount. The bondsman can use the collateral to pay the bail. However, if that’s not enough to cover the whole bail, a bondsman could also send a bounty hunter to find the defendant and turn them in to the authorities. The bondsman also keeps that percentage of bail money you paid in cash.
The process can work in your favor, but only if you stick to the agreed-upon terms between you and the bondsman. If you fail to do your part, you could wind up back in jail.
Contact A Lawyer
There’s a lot of bail bond information out there. Some people may tell you to do one thing, while someone else tells you to do the opposite. If you need bail bond assistance, one of the first things you should do is contact an attorney. They’ll tell you what your options are and tell you if seeking bail bond assistance is your best option.
An attorney can also help you through this whole process. They can represent you in court and try to negotiate a deal that works best for you. They may even be able to help you come up with a solution to your bail issue by asking the judge to lower it. That depends on a number of factors though, including the severity of your charges and your criminal history. Be sure to call a lawyer before taking action and seeking help from a bail bondsman.
Talk With A Bail Bondsman Agent
You shouldn’t solely rely on the bail bond information you get from the internet and other sources. If you want to have an accurate and honest conversation about posting bail bonds, you should look up bail bondsman agents and talk with them. They’ll be able to tell you what you need to do to get your bail bond set up, and what their terms are. Some bail bondsmen require 10% of your bail in cash, but others may require a larger percentage. This is important information to know, since you’ll have to pay that cash upfront and not get it back.
It’s also important to discuss the fine details of your bail bond agreement with the bondsman. They should be clear about how much they require upfront and how you’ll get your collateral back once you show up to court. It’s also good to know what would happen if you didn’t show up to court, since the bondsman would then be responsible for your bail. You should know if they’ll keep your collateral and/or send a bounty hunter to take you back to jail.
Evaluate Your Assets
If you’re thinking of posting bail bonds, you have to evaluate the assets you have. If your bail is $50,000, and you post 10% in cash, you still have to put up $45,000 worth of collateral to your bail bond agent. This can be tough to do, especially if your finances aren’t in order. Only one in four Americans have a written financial plan. Of those who do not have one, 45% believe they don’t have enough money to warrant a financial plan. If you don’t have the right finances or assets, you could be in trouble when trying to get a bail bond. If you aren’t sure about how much cash you can post, be sure to contact your banking services to get an idea of what you can contribute.
You should also think of the valuable things you have in your life. These valuables can include jewelry, watches, cars, and even properties. If you have a really high bail amount, talk to your bail bond agent about posting one (or more) of these valuables as collateral. If you don’t have valuables, you can also ask family members and friends to post their valuables as collateral. As long as you show up to court and the case gets resolved, the bail bond should get dissolved and the collateral is returned.
If you still aren’t sure about how to come up with the assets for your bail bond, talk to a criminal attorney. They may be able to help you come up with alternative assets or help you come up with a new strategy for obtaining bail money.
Don’t Forfeit Your Bail Bond
One of the most critical pieces of bail bond information to know is how risky it is to forfeit your bail bond. Forfeiting your bail bond means you don’t show up to your court date and your bail bondsman is responsible for the rest of your bail and the fees that may be associated with it.
This is not wise for a number of reasons. If you forfeit your bail bond, you’ll lose the collateral you put up for it. If you put up a house as collateral, but you don’t show up to court, you’ll lose the house. Not showing up to court is a surefire way to lose your assets. If your family and friends put up their assets for collateral and you skip court, you’ll lose their assets. This could be devastating for your inner circle, so do everything you can to make sure you don’t forfeit your bail bond.
If you think there’s a chance you can’t make it to your court date, talk to your legal counsel right away. There may be a solution they can come up with that doesn’t require you skipping your date and forfeiting your bail bond.
Look Out For Bail Bond Scams
An important piece of bail bond information to know is that not every bail bond company you research may have your best interest at heart. If you’re seeking bail advice from a bail bond company, make sure it’s legitimate. There may be people who claim to be bail bondsmen that are only looking to get your money and access to your assets. One sign that a bail bondsman could be trying to scam you is if they don’t have you sign a contract. Having a contract is important for anyone in a bail bond agreement, especially since you have cash and assets on the line. If they’re skipping the documentation, they may not be legitimate.
Another sign of a bail bond scam is threatening behavior. If a bail bondsman is threatening you with physical harm if your bail bond agreement doesn’t work, then they’re likely not a legitimate bail bondsman. If you suspect you’ve fallen victim to a bail bondsman trying to scam you, contact your lawyer and see what your options are.
Know What Your Next Steps Are
You should always know what your next steps are when it comes to dealing with bail. You need to know what your options are, and if you have to meet certain requirements by specific deadlines. This is especially true if you’re opting for a bail bond. If you don’t know what your next steps are, you could risk losing valuable assets. If you aren’t sure what your next steps are in the judicial process, you can always ask your criminal defense lawyer to explain them to you.
If you commit a serious crime, you’ll be offered to pay bail if you don’t want to spend time in jail awaiting your court date. If you don’t have the money for bail, you can always look for bail bond information and tips on how to set it up properly. The biggest thing to remember is that at the end of the day, you are responsible for it. Make sure you make the right decisions and know what you’re getting into before you agree to any terms. The more you know, the less likely you’ll slip up down the line.