Frequently Asked Questions About Bail Bonds
List of FAQ's
Here are the answers to the questions you may have about bail bonds.
- How Does The Bail Bonds Process Work?
- What Should I Know Before I Contact A Bail Agent?
- How Do I Get A Bail Bond?
- Do I Get My Money Back After The Case Is Over?
- What If I Think The Defendant Is Not Going To Show Up For Court After I Have Posted The Bond?
- Can The Defendant Leave The State Or The Country While On Bond?
- Can A Bail Agent Discount The Fees On The Premium?
- Are Some Bondsmen Less Expensive Than Others?
- What Do Bondsmen Accept As Collateral?
- What Happens If The Defendant Gets Re-Arrested While Out On Bond?
- How Did The Bail Bond System Get Started?
- What If Where I Live Doesn't Have Private Bail?
- Need To Find a Trusted Bail Agent?
It is common for people to not know what to expect regarding bail bonds until they or a loved one is arrested. As such, they often ask the same questions about bail, the bonding process, how to get in touch with a bail bondsman, and the associated costs. Here, we attempt to provide answers to FAQs for bail bonds.
Watch our video above for an explanation of the bail bond process. Learn more about how bail bonds work.
There is certain information that a bail agent will need in order to help you:
- Where is the person in custody? (Make sure that you ask the person in custody where they are located including the city, state, and the name of jail).
- What is the full name and booking number of person in jail? The bail agent will need this information in order to contact the jail. The bail agent can get the booking number for you if you forgot or if it was not available.
- How much is the bail? The bail agent will get this information when they contact the jail if you do not have it. With the bail amount, the bail bondsman can tell you the amount it will cost to post a bond and requirements to get the person out of jail.
There are four ways in which a person may be released from custody.
- You can use a bondsman.
- You can post cash for the full amount of the bond with the court or jail.
- You can use real property (such as a home or a lot) with the court.
- And lastly the judge can decide to let the defendant go on their own recognizance.
There are a few exceptions to this but you do not get your premium back that you paid to the bonding office. This fee is what allowed the defendant to get out of jail and is fully earned once the defendant is out of custody. For example if the defendant gets rearrested a week later you get no portion nor a refund of any money. If the bondsman fails to live up to his end of the contract then and only then you may be entitled to a refund of some kind.
There are remedies that can be done here as well, contact the bondsmen as soon as possible so that they can discuss your option in full detail with you. You can read more about what to do when a person fails to show up for their court appearance.
You will have to get permission from the bonding office in writing before attempting to do so. If the court has given you direct instructions not to leave the state or country you must then get permission from the bail agent and the court before leaving. Otherwise you are subject to arrest.
The rate that you pay a bail agent depends on the state's statutes and regulations. For example, in some states, there are companies that can legally charge 8%, while the allowable premium is set at 10% for others. If a company that agrees to discount their fee, they may lose their license. Some companies try and lead you into believing that you will receive a discount but in the end actually charge you the whole amount. Always ask to see a rate chart if you feel that you are being wrongly charged. If you are interested in the allowable bail bonds premiums, you can visit our bail cost page.
Like discounts, the general costs in your area depend on the locale's statutes and regulations. Bonding agents are generally licensed and regulated by the state. The guiding principle is that the premium rates are not to be "excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory." If you are interested in the cheapest bail bonds in your area, you can visit here to find out what the rates that allowed by law in your area.
Each bonding office will have their own standards but for the most part you can expect them to accept various forms of bail collateral. Some example of collateral include:
- Real estate
- Credit cards
- Personal credit
- Bank accounts
Once the defendant is back in custody the bond can be surrendered and your liability will be terminated. There are a few problems here: if you decided to surrender the bond you will lose the premium that was paid, and if you decided to get the defendant out on bond again, you will now have to post two new bonds and pay the premium on both bonds again.
The bail bond system arises out of common law. The posting money or property in exchange for temporary release pending a trial dates back to 13th century England. The modern commercial practice of bail bonds has continued to evolve in the United States while it has since ceased to exist in most modern nation-states. You can read more about the history of bail bonds here.
If you don’t have a surety or live in an area that does not allow private bail bonds, which include Massachusetts, Maine, Oregon, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Washington, D.C., your options are most likely through the court and the local jail. Read this article about what to do in a state that doesn't have private bail.
If you need to hire a bail agent, you can search throughout the United States for a pre-screened bail agent with AboutBail's trusted network.