A Step-By-Step Guide to Using Immigration Bonds

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) holds 30% of people in immigration detention centers for more than one month. Some jails may hold people for several years. 

Luckily, if your loved one gets arrested due to immigration laws, there’s a way to help. Many detention centers will accept bail. If so, posting this should get your loved one out of a detention center until their court date. 

However, sometimes you have to get an immigration bond to afford bail. Read on to learn about immigration bonds and how to use them. 

How Do Immigration Bails Work? 

Those suspected of disobeying immigration laws can get held in a detention center until their court date. With how the justice system works, a person could wait for years before they get a court date. Bail can help a person stay out of the detention center until his or her day in court. 

What Is Bail? 

Bail acts as a guarantee that a person will attend their court dates and not run. It’s an amount of money that a person must post to get released. Once the person attends all his or her court dates and complies with other terms of release, he or she will get the money back. 

In the case of an immigration bail, the detainee will usually have to pay the bail to ICE with a bank-certified check or a bank/postal money order. The bail fee amount can range from hundreds of dollars to several thousand. 

How Is the Immigration Bond Amount Determined? 

A judge or another court official will determine the amount of money the bond is worth based on a few different factors. Severe crimes often make bail higher, but immigration laws do not usually fall under this category. 

Previous Immigration Crime Convictions 

If the detainee has been convicted of any immigration crimes before and did not comply with the terms of release, the court official will likely set the bail fee higher. The official knows there’s a high possibility that the accused could flee the jurisdiction before his or her court date. 

Previous Other Crimes 

The court officials may also set the bail fee higher if the accused has been convicted of other crimes before. The official may believe that the accused will pose a certain level of danger to the public. 

Likelihood of Winning the Case 

If a judge determines that the convicted will likely win a case, the judge should make the bond fee cheaper. The detainee is less likely to flee in this situation. Also, a detainee won’t win a case if they have bad behavior. 

No Bail at All 

Luckily, the United States Constitution does not allow court officials to ask for an excessive bail amount. However, it does not require court officials to offer bail if they do not think such an action would be wise. If the court official believes the accused is a severe risk to the public, he or she will likely not allow a bond.

What Are the Usual Results of a Bond Hearing? 

The bond hearings for proven illegal aliens who are no threat to national security or public safety usually end in one of two ways. You can learn more about the different types below. 

Delivery Bond 

In this situation, the detention center will release the detainee as long as they pay for bail. However, the detainee must receive a warrant of their arrest and a notice of custody conditions. These will help them meet all the conditions of their release. 

The accused can then spend time preparing for the court date. He or she can spend time with his or her family and speak with an immigration lawyer. 

Voluntary Departure Bond 

Sometimes, the judge will let the detainee leave for their home country after he or she pays a bond. The bond will ensure that the detainee makes it to their country. Once he or she does, ICE will refund the bond to the person. 

What Happens During an Immigration Bail Hearing? 

The first step to posting bail is getting one set. To do that, detainees will first need to have a bail hearing. To get one and have the best chance of getting bail, detainees need to take the following steps. 

Ask For a Bond Hearing 

A detainee may get paperwork from ICE that tells them their bond amount or says that they have no bond. However, a detainee can ask to get a bond or get a different amount at a bond hearing. 

Ask at a Hearing

Detainees can ask their judges for a bond hearing at their first deportation hearings. They should also check the box where they give a judge permission to review their custody determination. They should get a bond hearing in the coming days or weeks. 

Write a Letter

They can also write a letter to the judge to request a bond hearing. A detainee should put their A-number, request, and name in the letter. Then they must send it to the following address: Immigration Court,1 Federal Drive, suite 1850, Fort Snelling, MN 55111. 

Gather Sponsor Letters For Your Bond Hearing 

The first piece of evidence that detainees should gather before a bond hearing will consist of a sponsor letter. These are letters that detainees can gain from someone who knows them well. They should contain the following pieces of information: 

  1. How the person knows the accused 
  2. Proof of the legal immigration status of the accused
  3. A piece of mail from the address where the sponsor and detainee will live 
  4. How the sponsor will support the detainee 
  5. Other information about their community involvement. 

Gather Letters From Other People Who Know the Detainee

Non-sponsor letters from people who know detainees can help as well. They can help the detainee prove to the judge that they have a place in the community and they won’t be a danger to anyone. Be sure that each person includes a copy of his or her identification. 

Here are some examples of people detainees can get letters from. 

  1. Friends 
  2. Family Members
  3. Religious leaders
  4. Volunteer partners
  5. Doctors 
  6. Counselors

Proof of the Detainee’s Identity as a U.S. Citizen 

It’s also important for detainees to gather as much evidence as they can that proves their status as U.S. citizens. You can find some examples of important documents written below. 

  1. Tax Records 
  2. Rent receipt
  3. Family photos 
  4. Social Security Records 
  5. Medical records 
  6. Marriage certificate 
  7. Insurance proof 
  8. Debt proof 
  9. Family members’ U.S. birth certificates
  10. Evidence of owning property

How Do Immigration Bonds Work? 

Oftentimes, both the convicted and his or her loved ones will not have enough money to pay for immigration bail. In such situations, they can get an immigration bail bond. This will provide the loved ones and/or the accused with the money they need to pay for a bond. 

What Is the Immigration Bail Bond Process? 

The accused can contact an immigration bail bondsman or bond agent as soon as the judge sets the bail amount. Even if they’re in a hurry, the accused should make certain that they choose the best bond service possible. If they can’t access the means of research, they should ask their loved ones to do it for them. 

Once the accused has fulfilled the immigration bond requirements, the bondsman will post the bail amount for the accused. This will start the detainee’s release process. 

What Are the Immigration Bond Requirements? 

To get an immigration bond, a detainee must have two things. If they do not have these themselves, they may be able to get a loved one to help. However, said loved ones cannot be illegal immigrants themselves. 

Percentage of the Bond

To start with, they have to have a certain percentage of the total bond amount on hand. This is a fee that the bond agent will require and will not get refunded when ICE refunds the bond to the accused. 

Bond Collateral

The detainee will also need something to act as collateral for the bond. This serves to protect the bondsman from a loss should the accused not receive a refund. If the accused cannot pay the bondsman back with the bail refund, the bondsman will take this collateral instead. 

Usually, a detainee must sign a contract that allows the bondsman to take a part of a person’s property should they lose their bail money. 

Let Us Handle Your Bond For Immigration 

As you can see, the whole process loved ones and detainees have to follow to gain immigration bonds is fairly straightforward. The most difficult part will be gathering the money together to use for paying the bondsman. If you can get that and follow these instructions, your loved one should make it out of jail. 

If you need an immigration bail bond in Raleigh, NC, consider using our services. We offer fast and considerate bail bond services. With over 50,000 satisfied clients and 75 years of collective experience, we’re worthy of your trust. 

Find an agent near you by searching the list on this page

What Are the Benefits of Using a Bail Bonds Service?

Last year, the crime rate in North Carolina declined by 5.6%. But in Raleigh, the trend reversed. Crimes increased by 4% in Raleigh and surrounding areas from 2020 to 2021.

Getting a criminal charge is no small thing in Raleigh. You may have to pay thousands of dollars in bail to get back to your family after an arrest unless you use bail bonds services.

North Carolina bail bonds can cover the cost of your bail. In exchange, you or the person charged with the crime pays a small percentage of bail and promises to appear in court.

Why would you choose a bail bondsman over paying your own bail? We are discussing the top benefits of a bail bonds service provider in this guide, so keep reading for everything you need to know.

The Benefits of Bail Bonds

Bail bond services have been around since the late 1800s. The very first bail bondsman was a bartender who wanted to help his patrons get out of jail for alcohol charges fast.

Today, anyone charged with a criminal offense who receives a bail order can take advantage of bail bond services. But why should you? Here are the top benefits to consider. 

You Don’t Have to Pay the Full Bail Amount

Average bail costs depend on the charge. According to the Charlotte Observer, these are the average bail amounts for various charges in North Carolina:

  • Class 3 Misdemeanor: $100–$250
  • Class A1 Misdemeanor: $500–$2,500
  • Class I Felony: $2,000–$5,000
  • Class B1 or B2 Felony: $200,000–$1 million

Regardless of the charge class, drug trafficking offenses can cost anywhere from $25,000 to $500,000.

You may be able to afford the full cost of bail for a less-serious crime. But the average person does not have the money to pay bail for a felony charge. That is where a bail bondsman comes in.

Bail bond companies pay the full cost of bail for you. Then, you only have to pay a small percentage of bail to the bondsman. This percentage ranges from 5% to 15%, depending on the amount of bail the bondsman must put down.

You Can Get Back to Your Family Faster

If you do not make bail, you will have to stay in jail. The exact amount of time you remain in jail depends on your charge. Typically, you have to wait until your court date before you can qualify for release.

But with a bail bondsman, you can get out of jail as soon as possible. At Amistad Bail and Immigration Bonds, we offer an expedited bail process. We can get you or your loved one out of an NC jail in as little as a few hours.

As long as you uphold your part of the agreement (i.e., to appear in court), you do not have to pay the rest of your original bond amount. Instead, you only have to forfeit the percentage you paid to the bail bond servicer.

But you also need to understand what happens if you do not show up for your day in court. In that case, you would have to pay the entire amount of your original bond.

You would also still forfeit the percentage you paid to the bondsman. That means you would ultimately end up paying more in bail than you would have if you showed up to your court date.

Plus, failing to adhere to the agreement you made when posting bail means you have to go back to jail. Then, you have to remain behind bars until your next scheduled court date.

You Won’t Have to Reveal Information About Your Finances

As we just discussed, bail bonds are expensive. And if the judge on your case gets suspicious about where you got the money to cover your bail, he or she can order an investigation into your finances.

You may not have done anything wrong to get the bail money. However, any suspicious financial activity can come under scrutiny. Ultimately, you could end up with another charge just for posting bail.

With a bond service, your financial information stays completely private. The bondsman posts bail for you. And a bail bond servicer should never ask about your finances.

You Get a Bail Bond Expert on Your Side

Having a criminal defense attorney on your side is critical when you get charged with a crime in North Carolina. But the second-most important professional to call is a bail bondsman.

After all, bail bond services are experts in bail bond laws. They know the difference between the various types of bonds in North Carolina (e.g., secured, unsecured, promise to appear, and cash bonds).

And while your attorney may be able to pay your portion of bail, they will not cover the full amount. Only a bail bondsman has the expertise and capability to make full bail on your behalf.

You Can Build Your Case from the Comfort of Your Home

Can you imagine working with a lawyer while you are in jail? You will not be able to go to in-person appointments or consult with your attorney face-to-face. Instead, you will have to work on your case over the phone.

Yes, phone calls to your lawyer still fall under client-attorney confidentiality. However, you will not be able to be as involved with your case as you would if you were out of jail. You will not be able to help your attorney collect evidence.

Even more importantly, you will not have the support of your friends and family members. Having support is absolutely crucial when you are undergoing the stress of a criminal charge.

Looking for Bail Bonds Services in North Carolina?

Bail bonds services can help you or your loved one get out of jail faster after getting arrested for a crime in North Carolina. Plus, you will only have to pay a small percentage of bail instead of the full amount.

Are you looking for bail bonds in NC? Amistad Bail and Immigration Bonds has agents on standby waiting for your call. Find a licensed bail bond agent near you today to save money and time after a criminal charge.

Understanding Your Options for Immigration Bail Bonds

There are more than 15,000 bail bond agents in the United States. They are the type of professionals you hopefully never need, but will be glad that you had them when you find yourself in a pinch. 

With the world such a globalized place, many bail bond agents also provide immigration bonds. Understanding your options for these bonds will help you shop around should you ever need one.  

Keep reading to learn more about immigration bail bonds and the options that you have. 

What Are Immigration Bail Bonds?

Make sure that you learn all about immigration bonds so you can explore your options. An immigration bond is a type of bail bond issued to a non-citizen. Like traditional bail bonds, the money paid is to assure that the person arrested or charged shows up to their court date. 

These bonds allow a person to be released from behind bars as they await their trial or court hearings.  

Study the Current Immigration Laws

Before anything, make sure that you are up-to-date on immigration laws and that you are being treated fairly. 

This includes things like knowing how long you can legally be held at an immigration detention center. Non-citizens have rights to retain legal aide and to secure bail bonds, just like a citizen would have those same rights. 

Once you are arrested for an offense, your case will be transferred to an immigration department once it’s established that you’re not a citizen. From there, you might choose to seek an immigration bond that will help guarantee your release.  

Get to know as much as you can about immigration bonds so that you get the desired outcomes.  

Learn About the Different Types of Bail Bonds

If you’re going to shop around for immigration bonds, it pays to first and foremost get to know the different types of bail bonds that are available. This way, you will know how the process is handled and can then decide how you’d like to proceed.

It’s particularly important to understand the different types of immigration bonds since you aren’t in your home country and will be subject to a different set of rules. Each type of bond comes with stipulations that you need to understand and uphold before signing and securing it. 

Here are some of your options: 

Delivery Bonds

In terms of immigration bail bonds, the delivery bond is the type most commonly used by the United States Department of Homeland Security. It’s a type of bond that is issued whenever a person is found to be staying in the United States illegally. 

With this type of bond you will need a person to sign the agreement to personally guarantee that you will show up to your court hearings. It’s important that you honor this bond and show up for court since your guarantor is putting money on the line for you that they can’t get back unless you honor all commitments through the completion of your case.  

Voluntary Departure Bonds

This is a type of bond issued when you come up with an agreed upon date to leave the country. Once you sign an agreement, you will be released from custody and allowed to live in the country up until the voluntary departure date. 

Like delivery bonds, this sort of bond also requires someone to sign on your behalf. They must ensure that you leave by the date or they will forfeit any of the money that they paid upfront. The person that signs for you will also be required to show evidence within 30 days of the date that you have left. 

This might include a plane ticket or boarding pass. Otherwise, the full bail bond cost will be due and the responsibility of your guarantor.  

Order of Supervision Bonds

With an order of supervision bond, a person has already been given a final removal order. Prior that order being executed, the non-citizen might be given some freedom to live in the country in the interim. 

Rather than remaining in custody, they can live as they please as long as they check in with the immigration office at an agreed-upon time or frequency. 

The person that signs on for your bond will also be responsible if it is found that you didn’t leave on the removal date. Receiving a removal order is one of the more severe situations, as people are typically barred from re-entering the United States for a decade after receiving one of these orders.  

Public Charge Bonds

With a public charge bond, a non-citizen is allowed to enter the United States under the agreement that they don’t apply for or receive any form of public assistance. A co-signer will witness this bond and sign to it. 

If it is found that you do sign up for public assistance, your co-signer could be required to pay the difference back to the government agency that issued it. The bond that they pay upfront will be used to cover the costs in lieu of the co-signer coming up with the money.  

Find a Bail Bond Company

Since you can now understand the importance of immigration bonds and the different types available, you should act quickly to get whichever one you need. This is a matter of freedom for many people, and can make your time on United States soil as fruitful and pain-free as possible. 

Your next step is to find a company that issues immigration bonds of all types. Here’s what you need to know about going through the process.  

Recognize Your Charges and Circumstances

It is up to you to understand what jurisdiction is holding you and on what grounds. This will allow you to make the necessary calls and to take advantage of your rights. 

Ask for language assistance if you need it so that you can advocate for yourself without dealing with language barriers. You’ll need to be able to forward the correct information to your bail bond company so that they can communicate on your behalf and secure your release.  

Find a Company That Is Professional and Proven

With large sums of money and guarantees being made, make sure that you find the right company to handle it. Your bail bond agent should be licensed, insured, and bonded so that your claim is legitimate and so that you are able to get your release. 

Look up the company to verify their license and to make sure that you aren’t taken by a scam. Any immigration bond company that you look up should have some verifiable reviews that you can check on to know that they are an authentic and legitimate business. 

Know How the Process Works 

After you are detained by an agency, you will be given the opportunity to call someone that can help you out. This might be a relative overseas that can speak on your behalf and guarantee your bond. If you have relatives in the United States, you can also call them so that they can assist you with getting the bond and your release. 

In many cases, a bond hearing will be held to name the price and terms of your bond. The judge could put stipulations that require you to stay at a specific address for your residence, and the price will be determined based on your flight risk, employment, ability to repay the bond, reason for being in the country, and other factors. 

You will fare better if you don’t have a history of immigration violations or any other criminal infractions. 

Shop Around for the Best Prices

When you shop around for immigration bonds, make sure that you’re also clear on how much it’ll cost. This includes knowing how much money must be paid upfront to secure the bond and how much the total amount is worth. 

You might expect to pay a premium of about 2% for full cash immigration bonds. Every company has its different rates, so ask upfront and make sure to get the rate in writing so that you are prepared. 

Most importantly, make sure that you are prepared to honor the bond completely so that no one has to forfeit any money that they can’t get back on your behalf.  

Learning All About Immigration Bail Bonds

These tips are helpful when you’re looking into immigration bail bonds. Take some time to shop with an immigration bond agent that is professional and fast.  

Amistad Bail and Immigration Bonds can help you. Use our site to search for an agent that can assist you with your bail bond needs. 

How to Choose a Bail Bond Service: Everything You Need to Know

Have you or a loved one ever gotten arrested? Have you or a loved one ever faced trial and had to wait in jail while doing it? 

It can be a daunting set of circumstances and you may be looking for any way to make that process easier. Well, one way of doing that is to wait from the comfort of your own home. 

Well, one way to do that is to choose a bail bond service to bail you out of jail while you wait for your trial to be completed. There are plenty of options for this in the United States, with over 12,000 bail bond services out there. 

How do you know which one is right for you? How do you know what the best bail bond service options are? 

Ask About Experience 

Something that you should consider when you are hiring a bail bond service is how much experience they have. 

How many years have they been in the business? How much experience does each agent have in that company? What kind of bail bonds do they normally give out? 

These are things you are going to have to consider before you hire a bail bond service. The reason for this is that you want to make sure that you are doing business with a reputable company. You need to make sure that you are giving your money to the right kinds of people and that they will take care of you throughout this whole process. 

At the end of the day, you will feel better knowing that you are doing business with a company that has done hundreds, if not thousands, of cases like yours. 

Reviews and Referrals 

The next thing you are going to want to consider is the reviews and referrals that a bail bond service has. 

If you are just entering this type of situation, do not be afraid to ask your friends and family if they have any experience dealing with a bail bonds service. If someone in your circles has had a positive experience with a bail bonds service, that can point you in the right direction of a good one. 

Businesses know how important it is to keep customers happy, particularly because that can lead to new business through their circles. Referral marketing leads to at least triple the conversion rate compared to any other form of marketing. 

What does this mean? It means that if a customer refers someone to a business, that customer is much more likely to remain loyal to that business than customers that got there through any other means. 

If you do not have friends or family that have been in this type of situation, the next best thing that you can do is look at reviews of the bail bonds service. 

Was the process consistently smooth? Did they ever give the customers any problems? Were the experiences mostly positive? 

The answers to these questions are crucial when it comes to determining if past customers were satisfied with the service. On top of this, you can look up how many stars people that review the business leave on online platforms. 

Fees 

Another thing you have to consider when hiring a bail bond service is the fees that you are going to have to pay them to bail you out of jail. Like most things in life, this is not going to be free. 

Think of this like getting a loan. With loans, you have to pay the money back plus interest. While this is not exactly the same, you do have to pay a percentage of the bail to the bail bond agent. 

Typically, this fee ranges from about 10-15% of the bail bond. So, when you are looking to hire a bail bond service, be prepared to have to pay this fee when all is said and done. 

Communication 

Finally, when you are hiring a bail bond service, you want to make sure that you have good communication with the people that you are going to be working with. 

For example, you want to make sure that they tell you exactly what their fee is and what the terms and conditions are to get this bail bond from them. 

On top of this, you want a service that is going to be regularly available to answer any questions that you might have. Then, have them answer in ways that can give you some relief, or at least some clarity on the situation. 

Along with that, you are going to want to make sure that you are working with someone that you trust. 

Is this a person that you believe will be a straight shooter with you? Are they telling you all of the information that you need to know? 

Some bail bonds are going to be large amounts of money. So, with that in mind, you want to make sure that you trust the person that is handling this money for you. 

Choose a Bail Bond Service 

These are four of the biggest factors that you are going to need to consider when it comes time to choose a bail bond service. You are going to want to work with a service that is very good with communication, work with a service that has a lot of experience in their field, look into the reviews and referrals for that company, and the fees that go along with it. 

Do you need help with your bail bond case? Find a bail bond agent here to get started with your case. 

The Bail Bond Application Process: A Guide

Did you know that roughly 500,000 people are held in pre-trial every day because they cannot afford the cost of bail? For many people, bail bonds are the only way that they can afford the high price of bail.

Unfortunately, many people are often intimidated by the bail bond application process. That’s why we made this guide.

In it, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about filling out this important document. That way, you can be reunited with your loved one while they await their trial. Let’s get started!

What Is a Bail Bond?

Before we dive into the application process, it’s essential to understand what a bail bond is and how it works. When someone is arrested, they will have a date set for their trial.

If they aren’t deemed an active risk to their community, they’ll have the price of the bail set. If the individual or their family can pay this amount, they’re being released from jail until the date of their trial arrives.

Then, once they go to court, they’ll receive the bail money back. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford the often steep costs of bail. One study found that the median cost of bail for a felony was around $11,700.

That’s where bail bond agents come into the picture. These are professionals that are licensed by the state. If they agree to pay your bail amount, then they’re taking on the responsibility that you’ll appear on time in court.

In exchange for this, the bail bond agent will charge you a fee for lending you the money. And, if you skip your court date, they’ll either come after you themselves or hire a bounty hunter to do it for them.

How Does the Bail Bond Application Process Work?

If a loved one was recently arrested, it’s crucial to start the bail bond application process as soon as possible. But how do you get started? In this section, we’ll break the application process down into three simple steps.

1. You Call a Bail Bond Agent

The first thing you need to do is find a bail bond agent to work with. The easiest way to do this is with a quick Google search. Or, if you live in North Carolina, you can use our Find a Bail Agent page.

Once you find a bail agent, get in touch with them through cell or office phone. Before you call, gather any information you will need on the detainee. This includes things like:

  • The full name of the individual in detention
  • The jail they’re being held in
  • Their reporting or booking number
  • Any charges being brought against them
  • Any extra information about the arrest that might be helpful

If you aren’t sure what the individual’s booking number is, you can use this inmate locator here.

2. You Fill Out the Necessary Application

If you’re seeking bail bond services, you will need to fill out several forms. All of these applications have been approved by your state’s Department of Insurance.

This is the governing body of bail companies. The average bail bond application is divided into three parts: information about the defendant, information about the defendant’s reference, and information about the co-signor.

Typically, you will need personal references when filing out a bail bond application. You will also undergo a credit check. You will need to provide your bank account information and Social security number to undergo these.

Lastly, you will need to provide some form of collateral. This might not be needed if the bail price is low. But, if it’s on the higher side, the bail bond agent might require it.

Simple bail bond applications typically take about an hour to fill out. However, if the case is more complicated, it can take days to process fully.

3. The Agent Posts the Bail

If your bail bond application is approved, the agent will give you detailed instructions on the next steps. Typically, this involves meeting the bail bond agent at the jail where your loved one is being held.

They’ll post the bail on your behalf. After that, your loved one will eventually be released from jail.

Typically it will take thirty minutes to an hour after posting for them to be released. However, this can vary depending on how crowded the jail is.

What Can You Use For Collateral In Your Application?

If the risk associated with the inmate is too high, the bail bond company might require collateral to approve your application. Cash or credit cards are typically the most common forms of collateral used.

However, some bail bond agents may accept other forms as well. Real estate is a common one. Basically, the bond company will put a lien on the property, which gives them the right to possess the property if a debt isn’t played.

Once the individual attends their court date, the lien will be dissolved. You can also get an Irrevocable Letter of Credit written by your bank.

Or, if that fails, you can turn to other forms of personal property. This includes things like cars, jewelry, computers, and other types of personal items. However, these items are generally used as a last resort.

Need a Bail Bond? Contact Amistad Bail & Immigration Bonds

We hope this article helped you understand the bail bond application process more thoroughly. If you’re feeling intimidated by the application, we recommend reaching out to a business that makes it easy, like Amistad Bail & Immigration Bonds.

We make bail bond benefits easy to get by offering a no-cost consultation. That way, you can understand how we perform our application and whether our services are a good fit for your needs.

So, if you’re ready to start the process of being reunited with your loved one, make sure to contact us today.

How to Find an Affordable Bail Bond Quickly

Did you know that more than half a million people go to jail each year in the United States? If a loved one is in jail, you likely want to do everything possible to get them out quickly.

For this, bail bonds are typically the only solution. Unfortunately, bail bonds can get quite expensive. So, how do you find affordable bails bond services quickly? Simple: by reading this article.

In it, we’ll explore everything you need to know about bail bonds. That way, you can get your loved one out of jail before their trial begins. Let’s get started!

Why Do You Need a Bail Bond?

When someone is sent to jail, they’ll be held until their court date arrives. A bail bond gives that person the opportunity to leave jail until that trial date arrives. However, they can be quite pricey.

There’s a reason for this. It’s to ensure that the individual comes back on their appointed court date. If the individual fails to show up to their appointed date, they’ll forfeit all of the bail money they put up.

What’s more, they’ll be wanted by law enforcement officials. However, if the individual does show up to their court date, then they’ll get the bail bond money back.

Bail bonds are important because they allow incarcerated individuals to spend time with their friends and family. Perhaps more importantly, it allows them to meet with a legal team to properly prepare for their defense.

What Do You Need to Get a Bail Bond?

Before you can get a bail bond, you will first need some information about the inmate. Specifically, you will need their:

  • Full legal name
  • The jail where they’re currently located
  • Their booking number
  • Their crimes

If you aren’t sure what their jail or booking number is, you can look it up on your state’s website. For example, if you need North Carolina bail, then use this inmate locator found here.

It’s important to remember that not everyone will be eligible for bail either. Some judges may deny bail or put the bail amount at an astronomical level that no average person could afford.

This is done if the person is charged with a particularly violent crime or if they’re deemed a potential flight risk.

Find Bail Bond Services

As we mentioned before, bail bands can be expensive. While misdemeanors are relatively affordable (around $500 or more), felonies are particularly pricey.

It’s not uncommon for the bail on these crimes to be $20,000 or more. If the bail amount for a loved one is low, you’ll likely be able to afford it yourself. However, this isn’t the case if it’s a higher amount.

Most people don’t have this type of money. That’s where a bail agent or bail bondsman comes into the picture. These professionals take full responsibility for the individual and pay the bail.

Since this person will be on the line if the person doesn’t show up to their court date, they typically require full reimbursement either from the defendant or the bail co-signor.

In addition to this, they will charge between 10% to 15% of the bail amount for their services. In some cases, they may also require collateral as physical assets.

What to Look For In a Bail Bond Service

Sadly, there are a lot of predatory bail bond services out there. These individuals use dishonest practices to take advantage of people in people in precarious situations.

This can make finding an affordable bail bond quickly a challenge.

In this section, we’ll go over everything you should look for before hiring a bail bond agent. That way, you’re sure that you’re getting the best possible deal out there.

Affordability

All bail bond services are going to be fairly expensive. But you should still look for a bail bondsman that offers the lowest possible percentage fee down payment.

This is going to be the money that you’re paying out-of-pocket in order to cover the entire bail amount. In addition to affordable bail bonds, you should also be looking for clarity regarding the bail services pricing.

They should explain any fees or collateral that’s needed in-depth. They should also walk you through all of the payment plans they offer.

Availability

An individual can be arrested at any time of day. If you’re eager to minimize the amount of time they spend in jail, you’ll want to handle the situation as soon as possible.

In these cases, you should look for a bail agent that’s available day and night. That way, your loved one doesn’t need to wait until typical business hours to be released from jail.

Professionalism

You don’t want your loved one to be treated like just another booking number. Your bail agent should treat your case with respect and dignity. One way you can do this is by looking for bail services with good reviews.

This will give you a better idea of what the average client experience was like. In addition, make sure the agent is properly licensed in whatever state they’re working out of.

Experience

The process in undeniably complicated. Because of this, you want an experienced person that understands the ins and outs of the system.

The more years your bail agent has under their belt, the more likely they’ll be able to help your loved one.

Need Affordable Bails Bonds In North Carolina? Contact Amistad

We hope this article helped you learn how to find affordable bails bond services as fast as possible. Here at Amistad Bail and Immigration Bonds, we know that an emergency can strike anytime during the day or week.

That’s why we offer bail bond service twenty-four hours daily, seven days a week. What’s more, our experienced bail bond agents will take immediate action to ensure that the individual is released as soon as possible.

So, if you’re ready to help your incarcerated loved one, then contact Amistad Bail and Immigration Bonds today.

What Is an OSUP or Order of Supervision? A Complete Guide

Deportation numbers are falling and that means you stand a good chance in your case if you’re facing an order of removal. Did you or someone close to you receive notice about an order of supervision or OSUP, and you’re searching for a detailed explanation? You’ve come to the right place.

In this complete guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know when OSUPs and how they work. We’ll also provide some tips on what to do if you find yourself in trouble with immigration. Let’s get started.

What Is An Order Of Supervision?

An OSUP is an immigration law term for “order of supervision.” It’s a way for the government to keep track of certain immigrants who are in the United States whom ICE has detained and released pending their final deportation orders. The order of supervision is also known as Form I-881.

The final deportation order will set a date for your deportation. However, you may be released on recognizance or granted a stay of removal, which would delay your deportation date. If this happens, you will likely receive an OSUP.

Types of OSUPs

There are two types of OSUPs: discretionary and mandatory. Immigrants who the government believes pose a low risk to public safety receive discretionary orders. The government issues mandatory orders to immigrants who they deem to pose a high risk to public safety.

If you’re under a discretionary order, you must report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office once every 30 days. If you’re under a mandatory order, you must report to an ICE office once every 7 days.

It is important that you understand the conditions of your OSUP and comply with them; failure to do so could result in arrest and detention. If you are under an OSUP, it is important to understand your rights and seek legal counsel to ensure that you are following the conditions of your release properly.

Release On Recognizance

If ICE detains you and you are awaiting your final deportation order, you may receive a ROR. This means that you are set free from incarceration without having to post bail or pay a bond. However, you must still comply with the conditions of your release, which may include an OSUP.

Stay of Removal

A stay of removal is an order issued by a judge that delays the deportation of an immigrant for a certain period of time. Stays of removal are often granted to immigrants who are in the midst of appealing their deportation orders or who received a humanitarian form of relief.

How Does An Order Of Supervision Work?

An order of supervision is a way for ICE to keep track of your whereabouts and make sure that you are following the terms of your release. It is important to remember that an OSUP does not replace a final order of deportation; it is simply a way for ICE to monitor your movements until deportation.

Once you are set free from ICE custody, you will receive a document that outlines the conditions of your release. You will need to sign this document which is called a Notice to Appear. The Notice to Appear will list the date and time of your next check-in with ICE, as well as any other requirements you must meet.

What Are the Conditions of an Order of Supervision?

The conditions of an OSUP will vary depending on the individual case, but there are some common conditions that are typically imposed. These include:

  • Regular Check-ins with ICE
  • Attendance at removal proceedings
  • Wearing an electronic monitor
  • Travel restrictions
  • Notifying ICE of any changes in address or employment
  • Restrictions on contact with certain individuals
  • Prohibition from possessing firearms or other dangerous weapons

What If I Miss an Appointment?

If you are unable to make an appointment, you should contact ICE as soon as possible. For example, if you are going to be out of town on the day of your scheduled check-in, you should let ICE know in advance so that they can make arrangements for you to check in by phone or video conference.

What Is a Humanitarian Form of Relief?

Humanitarian forms of relief include asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. These forms of relief are granted to immigrants who can demonstrate that they would face persecution or torture if they were deported to their home country.

Can I Get a Stay of Removal Under OSUP?

A stay of removal is a court order that delays the date of your deportation. If you are under an OSUP, you may be eligible for a stay of removal if you meet certain conditions. These include:

  • Physically present in the United States for at least 10 years
  • Not convicted of certain crimes
  • Not ordered removed from the United States within the last five years
  • Have strong ties to the United States, such as family or employment
  • Not a threat to national security or public safety

What Can a Lawyer Do to Help Me?

If you are under an OSUP, it is important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you understand the conditions of your release and ensure that you are in compliance with them. A lawyer can also help you file for a stay of removal if you are eligible.

Contacting a lawyer is the best way to ensure that you are following the conditions of your release and that you are taking the necessary steps to protect your rights.

Can I Still Get an OSUP If I Was Released on Bond?

Yes, you can still receive an order of supervision if you were set free from incarceration on bond. You must still comply with the conditions of your release, which may include an OSUP. It is important to understand the conditions of your release and to seek legal counsel if you have any questions or concerns.

What Happens If I Violate the Conditions of My Release?

If you violate the conditions of your release, ICE may take you into custody by ICE and detain you until your removal proceedings are complete. Additionally, if you violated the conditions of your release, you become ineligible for a stay of removal or other forms of relief from deportation.

What Is the Final Deportation Order?

If you are under an OSUP and did not receive a stay of removal, you will receive a final deportation order. This is the last step in the deportation process, and it means that you must leave the United States.

If you receive a final deportation order, you should immediately seek legal counsel. A lawyer can help you understand your options and take the necessary steps to protect your rights.

What Happens After I Receive a Final Deportation Order?

If you do not leave voluntarily, ICE will eventually come to your home or place of work and take you into custody. You will then be deported back to your home country.

It is important to understand that once you receive a final deportation order, you will no longer have the opportunity to seek relief from deportation.

This is why it is so important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible if you are under an OSUP. A lawyer can help you understand your options and take the necessary steps to protect your rights.

Can I Return to the States After Deportation?

Generally, no. After deportation from the United States, you will not be able to return unless you obtain a visa from the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country. It is important to understand that it is very difficult to obtain a visa after deportation.

If you are thinking about returning to the United States after deportation, you should speak with an immigration lawyer to discuss your options.

What Is Immigration Bond?

If you have been detained under immigration law, you may be eligible for release on bond. An immigration bond is a form of financial guarantee that ensures that you will appear for your removal proceedings. If you are set free from incarceration on bond, you will need to pay the amount of the bond to ICE.

If you do not appear for removal proceedings, you will forfeit the bond and may be subject to arrest. It is important to understand that not all people who are held are eligible for release on bond. If you are eligible for release on bond, you should contact an immigration bail bondsman as soon as possible.

How Do I Find An Immigration Bail Bondsman?

We are here to help you navigate your release from detention. All we need is some information about your case and your detention location.

We will determine if you are eligible for release on bond. If you are eligible, we will post the bond, and you will be released from ICE custody.

We’ll do our best to secure your release and assist you in navigating this difficult process.

Get Help with Immigration Law

If you are under an order of supervision, it is important to understand the conditions of your release and to seek legal counsel if you have any questions or concerns. A lawyer can help you file for a stay of removal.

If you’ve been held and are wondering about your options and how to get released, contact us now. We will fight for your release to give you the fighting chance you deserve. 

7 Questions to Ask Your Bail Bond Agent

Did you know that commercial bail bonds only exist in the United States and the Philippines? In every other country, bail is a set of conditions criminal defendants abide by in return for release until trial. 

A bail bond states that the criminal defendant will either appear in court or pay a fee decreed by the presiding judge. A bail bond agent or bail bondsman cosigns the agreement. 

The agreement states that the bail bond service will pay the fee if the defendant doesn’t appear for their trial. You’ll typically pay the bail bond company 15% upfront for their services, but there may be additional fees depending on the state. 

Now that you know all this, you may wonder, “Is there anything else I’d need to ask my bail bond agent?” Well, learning the basics of how paying bail bonds works doesn’t mean you know everything. 

There are a few other things you should know about bail bonds. Here are eight questions to ask your bail bondsman when you first meet. 

1. How Soon Can You Guarantee Release?

The most pressing question is how soon someone can be released after posting bail. The amount of time differs depending on various circumstances, including your state. 

The time you post bail can also affect how long the release takes. Sometimes it can take until the next business day for the payment to process. The judge may also take some time to approve the release. 

You can expect a release within three to ten hours with a competent bail bond agent. Rarely does release after posting bail take longer than a day. 

2. How Much Is a Bail Bond? 

The state you’re in determines how much your bail is. The bail fee will determine how much you pay the agent. Earlier, we’d said that you could expect your payment to the company to be approximately 10% of your bail. 

A reputable company won’t charge more than 15%. However, some states mandate that a bail bond service can only charge 10% of what your bail is. Some bail bond companies may charge additional fees for their services.

For example, if your bail bond agent charges you 15% of a $10,000 bail fee, you’d pay them $1,500 for their work. If the agent charges you 10% for $10,000 bail, you’d owe them $1,000.

The bail bond company may request collateral as a financial guarantee. The bail bond company won’t offer discounts or reduced bail bond premiums.

3. What Payment Methods Do You Accept?

Some companies require you to pay your bail bond a certain way. It’s always a good idea to carefully consider what payment method a bail bond company will accept. 

A service that only accepts cash may be difficult to accommodate on short notice. Ask your bail bond agent if they accept credit or debit cards. Some services let clients pay bail bonds via payment plans

4. Do You Need Collateral For Bail Bonds?

Most bail bonds won’t require collateral. Collateral is taken in place of or along with bail money to ensure the defendant’s release. Essentially, the collateral is something in the defendant or cosigner’s name. 

Collateral can be any property like cars, jewelry, or other valuable assets. Collateral is often real property (land and everything attached to it), which may be confiscated if the defendant doesn’t show up for trial. 

5. Is Your Company Listed? 

You should be able to find any reliable bail bond company listed on the Better Business Bureau (BBB). You should ask your bail bond agent if their company is listed on the website.

You can also search on the BBB website before hiring them for the job. Checking the Better Business Bureau helps ensure the bail bond service is legitimate and conducts business professionally. 

If your chosen bond service isn’t listed on the site, you may want to look at other options. 

6. Is Your Bail Bond Service Licensed?

A company can look legitimate and still be unlicensed. You may not think licensing is essential, but a business license ensures that the bond service has the necessary expertise to do its job correctly. 

If you’re unsure if your chosen bail bond company has a license, check your state’s Department of Insurance. Ask if the service you want to hire is licensed, and only sign the contract once you’re sure the business is legit.

7. Does Your Business Offer Warrant Services?

A warrant service will investigate whether there are active warrants out against you. If your bail bond agent knows you have active warrants, in some states they can prepare bail while helping you avoid arrest.

You’ll need to turn yourself in to the police if you have active warrants seeking arrest, and your agent can arrange bail. 

Will You Help Me Understand the Bail Bond Process? 

Considering you’re paying bail due to involvement in a criminal case, you’d want to ensure you understand everything happening. A bail bond agent should know that you likely don’t understand the process very well. 

Ask your agent if they could break down what happens if you don’t pay your bail bond—question what the bail bond service is charging you for and why. The process should be fully transparent and easy to comprehend. 

Knowing what will happen will help you manage expectations and keep a clear head. The more you know, the smoother the process will go. 

Want a Bail Bond Agent You Can Trust? 

Paying bail bonds can be a daunting experience, but the right bail bond agent can help you through the process easily. The ideal bail bond service will make the affair as simple and transparent as possible. 

If you need assistance with your bail and don’t know who to trust, contact us at Amistad Bail and Immigration Bonds. We’re available 24 hours a day and are here to answer all your bail bond-related questions.  

Your Guide to Posting Bail as an Immigrant

Did you know that ICE arrests over one hundred thousand individuals each year for violating immigration laws? If you’re an immigrant who’s recently arrested, you likely want to get out on bail as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, posting bail as an immigrant can be a confusing process. Often there are language barriers that prevent people from understanding the complex system.

That’s why we made this guide on how to post bail. In it, we’ll be covering everything you need to know about immigration bail bonds.

That way, you can be reunited with your family and loved ones as fast as possible. Let’s get started!

What Is an Immigration Bail Bond?

Around one million immigrants arrive in the United States each year. Of these immigrants, nearly a quarter are unauthorized. As such, they can be subject to arrest if they’re caught by ICE.

If you’re in detention for an immigration-related crime, an immigration bail bond is a legal way to get out of custody. This is a form of a government bond issued by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

An ICE agent will determine whether or not you’re qualified for bail. They’ll also determine the amount of money on the bond. To get a bail bond, you will need to know the name of the individual, their registration number, and the name of the facility where they’re staying.

Either you or your loved ones are responsible for posting the bail. The bail money is used as leverage to ensure that you will arrive at any scheduled court proceedings in the future.

It’s important to note that an immigration bail bond doesn’t eliminate the charges against you. All it does is allow you to leave jail until your court date arrives.

As such, you will need to seek legal help between your bail posting and the court date.

The good news is that once a verdict has been rendered, the bail money will be returned to you. However, you will not get the money back if you miss the court date. 

Different Types of Immigration Bail Bonds

There are two types of immigration bonds that you can get: a delivery bond and a voluntary departure bond. The best option for you will depend on whether or not you want to fight the charges being brought against you.

A delivery bond is much like your standard issue bail. Once ICE releases their notice of custody conditions for your arrest, you will receive the delivery bond.

This type of bond works in the same way as we described above. You’re temporarily released from jail in exchange for the bail money. This is to give you time to meet with your lawyer and family before your court date arrives.

A voluntary departure bond works a little differently. This is for unauthorized immigrants who accept the verdict and voluntarily leave the country. They will do this by a given date and at their own expense.

You will need to pay the voluntary bond departure bond amount to agents. But, once you’ve left the country, you will get the money back.

However, you will not get the money back if you don’t leave the country on time. 

Eligibility for Posting Bail as an Immigrant

Unfortunately, not every detained immigrant will be eligible for bail. Whether or not you will be eligible for bail is determined by a judge at your bail hearing.

The judge will look at a variety of factors to determine eligibility. First, they’ll examine whether you’re a potential flight risk. To determine this, the judge might examine whether you tried to flee arrest when officers arrived.

Second, the judge will determine whether or not you pose a potential danger to the community. If you have a criminal record, it can be harder for you to be eligible for bail.

However, all hope isn’t lost. If your lawyers can prove that you’ve been rehabilitated for your crimes, you still have a chance.

Lastly, the judge will look at whether or not you’re likely to win your case. If the odds are in your favor, you have a much higher chance of eligibility. 

Can An Illegal Immigrant Post Bail? 

Yes, you can post bail as an illegal immigrant in the event that you are arrested by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. However, if you are an illegal immigrant, you will need to provide a lot more evidence at your bond hearing.

Your family should work with a lawyer so you can prove to the judge that you’re not a potential flight risk. 

What Does the Bail Posting Process Look Like For an Immigrant?

If you’re an immigrant in jail, you’re probably eager to post bail. So, how do you get the process going? Once the bond is posted, the next step is for you to schedule a bond hearing with a judge.

The easiest way to do this is to ask the judge for a bond hearing at the first hearing you have when you’re brought in. However, you can also write a letter of request for a bond hearing to the judge.

You must also check the appropriate box on your Notice of Custody Determination. At your bond hearing, you will be required to present the judge with a letter from your sponsor. This letter will contain information like:

  • How the sponsor knows the individual
  • The immigration status of the sponsor
  • Whether or not the sponsor is a legal citizen
  • The address of the detainee

The sponsor letter isn’t the only thing that the sponsor should bring. They should also gather as many documents as they can. Look for anything that can prove that the unauthorized immigrant is a part of the community and followers laws.

Good documents to look for include marriage certificates, tax records, social security information, letters from community members, family photos, proof of debt, and proof of homeownership.

After that, the judge and bail bond agent will set the bond amount. An outside party is required to pay your bond for you (you can’t pay it yourself).

If they don’t have enough bail money, they can go through a bond service. If you want to learn more about how bail bond work, you can check out this guide here

How Much Does an Immigration Bail Bond Cost

There is no set amount for an immigration bail bond. That’s because ICE agents will use a variety of factors to set the bail amount. These factors include things like:

  • Your current employment status
  • Your criminal history record
  • Your current immigration status
  • Whether or not you have a family

If the ICE agent deems you a potential flight risk, you can expect to pay more for your bail. According to the DHS, the minimum bail amount must be $1,500.

But, according to the Guardian, it’s not uncommon to see high bails that fall between $15,000 to $20,000. On the other hand, a voluntary departure bond tends to be much more affordable.

These types of bail bonds tend to cost around $500. It’s also important to note that you likely won’t get your bail money back right away.

It can sometimes take up to a year for the government to return it. So, you shouldn’t be relying on the money getting back to you anytime soon. 

Get In Touch With an Immigration Bail Bond Service 

If you have all the cash that’s necessary for a bail bond, you can pay a cash bond. This is where you pay for the bail bond in full. Sadly, most bonds are too expensive for families to afford.

If you fall in this category, then an immigration bail bond service can help you. The service will provide you with a surety bond.

In exchange for the money loan, you will pay back a percentage of it (typically between 5% to 10% of the bond amount). 

If You Need Bail Bond Services In NC, Contact Amistad Bail & Immigration Bonds

We hope this article helped you learn more about posting bail as an immigrant. Here at Amistad Bail and Immigration Bonds, we know that an immigration-related arrest can strike at anytime.

That’s why we provide 24/7 bail bond services to the N.C., SC, and V.A. areas. Over the decade we’ve been in operation, our agents have developed effective strategies for getting immigrants out of jail as soon as possible.

What’s more, we make the process of posting bail simple, convenient, and quick. So, if you’re ready to be reunited with your loved one, make sure to get in touch with us today. 

What to Do if Your Bail Bond Collateral Property Is Seized by the Court

Bail bonds. They can be the difference between spending time in jail versus spending time in your own home while a trial is pending. 

In the United States, about two million people need a bail bond every year. Unfortunately, not everybody that needs one has the cash to meet their bail demand. 

So, what can you do in that situation? You can use the collateral property. 

However, this comes with a catch. You have to meet the terms and conditions of the bail otherwise your property can get seized. 

How can your collateral property get seized by the court? What happens if it gets seized by the court? This is what you can do. 

What Is a Bail Bond? 

A bail bond is something that allows you to get the money that you need to at least temporarily get out of jail. It allows you to sit in your own home while a trial is pending rather than wait in jail. 

Bail bonds are typically a certain amount of cash that the court demands before they will release you from jail. 

The amount depends on the severity of your crime. For example, if you are a first-time offender and the offense is minor, your bail may not even cost $1,000. However, if the court deems you a big flight risk and the crime that you are accused of is serious enough, your bail bond could be hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Typical conditions of a bail bond are that you have to appear in court for your trial and if you fail to do so, then the cash you paid in court will get seized. 

In other words, you have the chance to get that money back if you appear for trial. If you do not appear for trial, the court will keep your money. 

Collateral Property 

Now, not everybody will have enough cash to cover the demands of a bail bond. Fortunately, there are other options if you cannot come up with the cash. 

One of those options is to put up collateral. Collateral is when you put up an item that is worth the amount that the bond is asking for plus any outstanding liabilities. 

So, let’s say for example that you or a loved one are in jail right now. The courts demand $100,000 as the bail for this person to be granted a bail bond. 

However, you do not have nearly enough money in your bank account to cover this bail amount. However, your house could be worth $150,000. That is when you would qualify to use that as collateral property against the bail.

In this situation, you are risking your house to meet the conditions of the bail bond. This means that if you do not show up for a trial, the bail bondsman or the court can seize your house. 

What You Need 

When you are putting up the collateral property, you typically need to present the deed of your house or asset to a court. They will then review it and if it is accepted, the deed will be taken by them while you or a loved one are released from jail.

The court will keep the deed if the terms of the bail bond are not met. 

You do not have to be the one that has the deed in their name if you are the one that needs the bail bond. You have the option of having a loved one or friend put up the property themselves. A bail bond can have a cosigner that puts up the collateral property on your behalf. 

Keep in mind that if you are putting up the property on someone else’s behalf, their actions are going to affect whether or not you have a home to go back to when the trial settles. Make sure you know what you are getting into if you want to become a cosigner. 

Remember, the median home price in the United States is over $400,000 in 2022 and has increased by 30% just in the last two years. That alone is plenty of motivation to not skip bail, because replacing a home will be very difficult. 

What Happens if Collateral Property Is Seized? 

So you reach the point where you are risking losing collateral property. This mainly occurs when a defendant fails to appear at trial. This can be very bad news for loved ones or friends that cosigned bail for someone that did this. 

It means that they are going to be held responsible for paying the dues that the person who needed the bail bond left.

The collateral property is seized in this situation to recoup the money that was owed on the bail bond. A bail bondsman or the courts will take ownership of this property and unfortunately, you will no longer have a home. 

This can be a very real consequence of skipping a bail bond and that is why it is only recommended to put this up if it is your own property. Or, if you have your own assurances to make sure someone will not skip bail. 

Get a Bail Bondsman 

This is an overview of what happens when you put up collateral property and it gets seized. The main note to take away from here is that the defendant must appear in court for their trial. If they do not do this, then the collateral is forfeited. 

If you are considering cosigning alone, make sure that you understand these risks. 

Do you need to find a bail bondsman for your case? Get a free consultation with us today.