Finding out that someone you care about has been arrested can be a troubling experience. Worse yet is finding out that they need you to post bail to get them out. If you don't have enough money to pay the bail up front, you'll need to go see a bondsman. If you've never worked with a bondsman, there are some things that you need to know. Here's a look at the basics to help you understand the process and what you can expect.
You Take Responsibility
As the cosigner for a bail bond, you take financial responsibility for the person that is being released. That means that you will be held responsible for paying the full amount of the bail if the party released skips out.
You also take responsibility for ensuring that the released party makes it to court dates, follows their bail release conditions, and checks in with the bondsman. You'll have to make sure that the bail bond company stays apprised of the person's whereabouts and actions. If the other party doesn't show up for court, it's also your responsibility to help the bondsman find the person if they skip out on bail.
You'll Need Collateral
When you secure a bond for someone, you have to be able to cover the full bail amount in the event that they skip out on their bail. That typically means that you will need to provide something of sufficient value to cover that cost.
Most bond agents will accept all forms of collateral, including property deeds, car titles, jewelry, or other things of value. Talk with your bond agent to find out what he or she is willing to take for collateral, and understand that you will lose that collateral if the person you're bonding out skips.
You'll Need Cash
In addition to the collateral required to cover the bond amount, you'll also need to have cash on hand to cover the bail premium. Most bond agents require a ten-percent deposit in cash to secure the bond. Talk with your bond agent to find out how much you need to put down, as it can vary by agency and based on the charges or criminal history of the defendant.
You will get your bail collateral returned to you after the case is concluded, but the deposit is the bondsman's premium for putting up the bail and taking the legal responsibility. That deposit is not returned to you.
Bonds Are Temporary
It is important that you clarify how long the bond will be valid for. Your bondsman will issue the bond for a specific period of time, and if the case carries on beyond that time, you may have to pay the bond premium a second time to extend it. In many cases, the initial bond is valid for a year. If that year passes, you'll have to renew it to extend the release for your friend or family member.
In addition, the bond can be revoked if the released party violates the terms and conditions of their release and is returned to jail. In that case, you'll lose your bond premium. If the person is able to secure a new bail release, you'll have to pay the premium again in order to obtain a bond for their release.
The more you understand about being responsible for a bail bond release, the easier it is to decide if you can take that responsibility. With this information and the help of an experienced bond agent, you'll be able to decide if becoming a bond co-signer is right for you. Reach out to a lawyer like Raymond Martinez Attorney at Law at a bail bonds service near you today for more information so that you're prepared if you ever need it.