Common Myths About Bail Bonds

Bail bonds is one of those industries that people don’t need often, but they find fascinating. The media likes to portray the shady side of the business – the more outlandish, the better. Because of this many misconceptions and myths exist around bail. We’ll look at what might be the top 5 myths about bail bonds.

Myth #1: Bail bonds need to be paid for in cash.

This is not true. Some bail companies offer their clients alternative methods of payment including debit card, American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa, wire transfer, Western Union and direct bank deposit.

Myth #2: You can “negotiate” bail with the jail. 

Bail amounts are not set at random. When someone is arrested the crime they are being accused of will be cross referenced with the county’s bail schedule. This is a document that is set each year that lists different bail amounts to assign to different crimes. Sometimes people think that if the defendant has never been in trouble before that they can drive down to the jail and negotiate a lower bail amount. Unfortunately, that assumption is wrong. Only judges have the power to raise, lower or remove bail.

Myth #3: Bail bonds need to be paid in full before the defendant can get out of jail.

This is also not true. Some companies offer their clients the option of bail bonds payment plans if they are unable to come up with the full cost all at once. The terms and conditions of bail bonds financing can vary greatly from company to company so you’ll want to ask your bondsman lots of questions before signing on the dotted line. Do they charge interest or financing fees? Is there a penalty for paying the balance off early? Does the balance need to be fully paid off in a set period of time? Do they require a set percentage down or can they work within your budget? These are key points to consider before moving forward.

Myth #4: The fee you pay to a bondsman is refunded once the defendant’s case is over.

This is another big misconception and it is also false. When someone is arrested and their bail has been set the two fastest ways to get them out of jail would be to post cash bail or to hire a bail bondsman. In the case of cash bail, you’d take and post the defendant‘s full bail amount, in cash, at the jail. This is often a hefty amount of money and the county assumes that whoever posted it is going to want it back at some point in time. They tell this person their money will be refunded- but only if the defendant makes all of their necessary court appearances. If they fail to appear, the money will be considered forfeited.

Most people don’t have immediate access to very large sums of money and if they do, they often don’t want to have it tied up for months on end. This is where bail bondsmen come in. For a fee equal to 10% of the total set bail, the bondsman will post a piece of paper with the jail that promises the defendant will go to court. This piece of paper also promises that if the defendant fails to appear, the bondsman will assume responsibility for paying the full bail amount as a penalty. Every time a bondsman posts bail bonds they take on a certain amount of liability. This is why they charge a non-refundable fee for their services.

Myth #5: Bail bonds can be revoked if someone falls behind on a payment plan.

In order for a bondsman to revoke a bail bond they are required by law to have a good reason for doing so. For example, when a defendant is bailed out the judge or the bondsman may set forth terms and conditions for their release. You may recall the judge for the Lindsay Lohan case required she submit to mandatory drug and alcohol testing. Lindsay remaining sober was a condition of her release. If a person’s bail bond comes with these types of terms and conditions and the defendant fails to comply, this would qualify as a good reason for revoking their bond. On the other hand, if someone falls behind on a payment plan, this would not fall under the “good reason” category.


If you find yourself needing a California bail bond, contact an expert bondsman. Call us at 1-877-861-3761.

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Updated:  08/06/2012