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3 Essential Financial Facts about Bail Bonds

13 May 2021 No Comment

If you have never had to post bail for a friend or family member who has unfortunately been arrested, it can be an unnerving and overwhelming experience. Law enforcement officials and those at the jail where your loved one is being held will likely be uncooperative and unhelpful, and you will likely be given contradictory and in many cases ill-informed information from anyone you ask advice from. One common question is whether it makes financial sense to contact a bail bondsman. This is obviously a question whose answer will be greatly affected by a variety of factors, including many that are affected by your personal finances. Here are 3 essential financial facts about bail bonds that should help you decide whether they’re the best option for your situation.

1: Bail Bonds are a Type of Loan

If you are looking into bail bonds, your friend or family member has likely already had their bail hearing, which is when a judge has looked at the case and decided what bail amount to set. The amount of bail is based on a number of factors, including the financial situation of the accused, the severity of their crimes, and the risk that they won’t show up to their court dates. Unless the bail is paid, the accused will be forced to stay in custody until their hearing or trial. Fortunately, the bail will be returned if the defendant chooses to show for all their court dates. Unfortunately, the bail amount isn’t always viable for those close to the accused.

That’s where a bail bondsman comes in. When you get a bail bond, you are essentially getting a short-term loan. The bail bondsman pays the full amount of the bail to the courts on your behalf, allowing your friend or family member to be released. There is, however, a fee that, unlike a true bail, is nonrefundable. It is usually 10% to 15% of the full bail amount.

2: There are Other Bail Options

Obviously, bail bonds are not the only option. There are a variety of ways to make the bail amount while not having to pay the significant fee to the bail bond agency. You can pay your loved one’s bail in cash, of course. You will get the money back so long as they decide to show for all their court dates, but there is always that risk that they will not do so and you will be forced to cover the entire bail.

You can also use other financial assets as collateral in most cases. Many states only accept physical assets as collateral, but you can back your loved one’s bail with assets such as stocks, real estate, bonds, vehicles, and bank accounts. Make sure to check the laws in your state to find out what types of collateral will be allowed and what percentage of the bail can be covered by them. If you’re strapped for cash and don’t want to pay the bail bond fee, this may be a good way of covering your loved one’s bail.

3: The Defendant Must Show in Court

When you choose to cover the bail for your friend or family member, whether using your own financial assets or through signing a bail bond, you are ultimately going to be the one who will financially suffer if they choose not to show in court. If you cover the bail yourself, you’re running the risk of not being refunded by the court if your loved one chooses not to show in court. If you choose to use a bail bond, then the defendant not showing in court means that you won’t simply have to pay the 10% to 15% fee to the bail bondsman but the entire value of the bail in order to recoup the bail bond agency’s loss. If you’re choosing a bail bond because you don’t have enough money to cover the bail, you have to be very sure that the defendant won’t leave you in an even more dire financial situation.

Ultimately, only you can decide whether a bail bond is right for you and for the friend or family member who you are attempting to bail out. Keeping these financial facts in mind should help you to make a more considered, informed decision.

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