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1. What are BAIL BONDS?
Simply put, a bail bond is a monetary guarantee for the Court that a defendant will appear at all times they are ordered to while their case is pending. When a person goes to court as a defendant in a criminal case, bail is set by the judge. If they are arrested and have not been brought to court, bail is set according to a schedule. The bail can be posted in full in cash, or by posting a bail bond through a bail agent. The bail agent collects a fee (usually 10% of the amount of bail) and some sort of collateral for the full amount of the bail.
2. How long does it take to get out on Bail?
The paperwork takes approximately 15-30 minutes. The release time after the jail receives our paperwork is generally one hour or less for local police stations and 3-12 hours for county jails. Generally speaking, the busier the holding facility, the longer it takes.
3. Why don't I get my Premium back?
Bail premiums (a.k.a. the 10% you pay) are normally fixed by contract with the state. A bail bond premium is a lot like car insurance. You are purchasing an insurance contract for the individual being released. Even if you never get in an accident in your car, you don't get your insurance premium back. Bail bonds work the same way.
4. Why can't I do a cash bail myself?
You usually can for traffic and minor violations. While a few jurisdictions do allow cash bail by citizens who sign an appearance guarantee and / or post the entire bail (not just the 10% premium), most states now require a licensed bond agent to guarantee the appearance. This way the state knows it can instantly collect the entire bond amount plus it can put the burden of apprehending those who fail to appear on the bond agency. Put another way, most states do not hassle with collateral and property, they collect bail forfeitures in cash.
5. What is and isn't good Collateral?
Anything which you own and has significant resale value is good collateral.
• A house on which you pay a mortgage is considered good collateral up to the difference between it's value and the amount you still owe on the mortgage.
• Note that except for a house, items which you have bought on credit and are making payments are not usually collateral unless you hold the title (a.k.a. pink slip). e.g. A car on which you have a loan in which the lender holds the title and you make payments is not collateral because lender has a lien on the vehicle.
• You may keep possession of major collateral items (e.g. House, Boat, Cars, Motor Homes) as long as the Bail Agent holds the title (a.k.a. pink slip).
• Personal items of high value (e.g. jewelry, fire arms, computers, cameras, stereos) can be used as collateral but normally must be surrendered to the Bail Agent who will hold them in a safe or other secure place. These items are normally valued at their current resale value, not what you originally paid for them.
6. When do I get my Collateral back?
Upon completion of the court case. This happens when:
• The charges are dropped.
• The person is found innocent at trial.
• The person is sentenced at trial.
Of course, the Collateral will only be returned if there is no outstanding balance due on the Premium. The Bail Bond Agent has a fidiciary (formal legal) responsibility to safeguard all collateral.
7. What are the chances that the person will be released on their Own Recognizance (OR)?
OR release practices vary widely by court jurisdiction. Generally the more severe the charge, the less likely OR release is. Checking with the court or a criminal attorney is probably the best way to gauge the chances other than asking the jailers themselves.
A judge is likely to consider a person's stability in the community and in their employment when setting bail. But you should also know that bails and OR release standards have been raised in domestic dispute cases over the past few years. Some states now even have "mandatory cooling off " periods in which bail is not immediately granted for these types of cases.
8. What happens if the person does not appear in court as promised?
A bench warrant is issued for the person's arrest and the person's name will appear in police bulletins as a fugitive. Although specifics vary depending on the jurisdiction, generally the court also authorizes the Bail Agency arrest authority for the individual as well.
The Bail Agency normally calls the person's home, work, and other references to try to find the fugitive and convince them to appear. If these efforts are unsuccessful, the Agency may then search and employ apprehension specialists (a.k.a. Bounty Hunters) to arrest the fugitive.
From the perspective of someone who guaranteed the appearance by posting collateral, you want to convince the fugitive to surrender himself to the police or court as soon as possible. Normally, if the fugitive is returned before actual remittance to the state, you can usually get your collateral back. Also, judges tend to get more irritated the longer a fugitive stays at large.
If the fugitive does not surrender and cannot be found by the forfeiture date, the Bail Agency remits the entire bond to the court and proceeds with legal action to seize and liquidate your collateral. By law, the Bail Agency is required to refund any value received in excess of the Bail amount following liquidation.