How Bail Works
A bail bond is a piece of paper that is posted at the jail by a licensed bail bondsman that promises two things. The first is that if the defendant is released that they will return to court when required in order to have their case resolved. The second is that if the defendant willfully fails to appear and decides to flee, the bondsman and the person who signed the bail contract will assume responsibility for paying the full bail amount to the court.
The Steps Of A Bond
The process of bailing someone out of jail is far less complicated than a lot of people think. When you call a bail bonds company the agent you speak with will ask you a few basic questions. This will include the full name of the defendant, the general area in which they were arrested and their bail amount, if you know it. If you don’t have everything on hand, don’t worry, they should still be able look it up.
The next step in the process involves the bondsman evaluating risk. If a defendant is facing very serious charges and their bail has been set very high, the bondsman may require collateral be posted in order to secure the bond. If the person calling in has very little money to put down, has bad credit and wants to work out a payment plan, the bondsman will also need to evaluate the risk of not being paid.
If the client and the bondsman decide to move forward, the bail bonds contract will need to be filled out and signed. This is a very basic document which is several pages long and will take about 10 minutes to fill out. It will ask for the name and address of the signer, the name and address of the defendant, contact phone numbers and references.
If a payment plan is worked out the terms of repayment will be included and the down payment amount will be listed. If the bond is paid for in full, that will be notated as well. Once the contract has been signed and payment has been arranged the bail bonds company will dispatch someone to the jail to post the bond.
Who To Work With
There are virtually hundreds of bail bonds companies in California who offer the same service at the same price. How do you know who to call?
The first thing you should look for in a bail bonds company is experience. How long have they been in business? Do you get the sense that the person you’re speaking with is familiar with the ins and outs of the industry? Does their website offer client testimonials? Are they accredited by the Better Business Bureau?
A second thing to look for is whether the bondsman is able to assist you in a way that is convenient and comfortable. Do they require you meet with them in person or do they offer bail by fax and bail by email? If you need to meet someone in person, will they dispatch an agent to your location or will you need to drive to their office? Do they accept credit cards, or do they require you transact in cash?
Lastly, you want to make sure they take the time to walk you through the process, step-by-step, and will take the time to address any concerns you might have. Does the person your speaking with answer your questions calmly and compassionately, and without getting frustrated? Do you get the sense that they’ll handle your situation with confidentiality and care?
The decision to bail someone out of jail can be personal and stressful. If there is any upside to being in the position of needing to help a friend or family member be released from custody, it’s that the process is a lot less difficult than you may have believed.