Bail Bond Basics: Bail Types and Payment Process

There are a lot of different things that go into the court system in this country, and thanks to the huge number of crime-related TV shows and movies a lot of people instantly assume that they understand everything about the subject. But there’s more to the legal system than you can learn just by watching some TV. When it comes to bail bonds, for example, there are some key things worth understanding.

If you’re not completely sure as to just what bail bonds are, how to post bail with the help of a bail bondsman, or what their limitations are, here are some of the key things that you’ll want to know.

  • First of all you’ll want to know what bail bonds are for. Basically, bail is a kind of guarantee that a defendant will appear in court when they’re supposed to. The defendant or one of their loved ones is supposed to post bail, which allows them to leave jail until their trial date. If they don’t show up, that bail amount could be forfeit.
  • In most cases, a family can’t afford the entire bail amount. In these instances, they’ll use a bail bondsman to post bail for them. The family member or friend gives the bondsman a percentage of the total bond – usually 15% – and the bondsman posts bail for them. That 15% is usually the fee that the family will pay for the service of the bondsman.
  • Once bail is posted it will take a period of time to get the person out of jail. This can range from just a few minutes to as much as 24 hours in some cases.
  • Those who skip out on bail, which means that they flee the area without showing up for their court date, can cost their loved ones thousands and will often force a bondsman to take actions to retrieve them.
  • In some cases, things like property can be used as a collateral for the bail, which will allow families or friends to secure bail for their loved one without a down payment. In these cases, the client repays the bail premium in monthly payments. For example, a $20,000 bail will require a $3000 premium payment. If the family doesn’t have the money, they could use property as collateral and then repay that $3,000 amount over time.

Procedures for Paying Bail

An individual is usually required to go to a specific location, such as a jail or a courthouse, to pay bail. A designated official, or the clerk or cashier, is assigned to receive the payment. The person paying the bail must furnish certain details, such as the booking or case number, the name of the individual in custody, and the required bail amount. The amount will be given to the cashier.

After payment has been made, the clerk or official notifies the staff at the jail where the defendant is kept. The prison officials facilitate the temporary release of the individual.  If the cashier is within the same facility as the jail, the release happens quickly. Otherwise, the process may take several hours.

The payer must make the bail payment either in cash or some other form of accepted payment, such as a credit card. The acceptable payment options may vary depending on the rules set by a particular jurisdiction. Find out the other options below.

Types of Bail

A state or jurisdiction may allow other kinds of bail apart from cash. These include:

  • Unsecured Bond – This type of bail bond is not tied to any asset and is considered trustworthy only because of the reputation and credit standing of the issuing company or agency. It is a certificate of credit, also called a signature bond. Unsecured bonds are applicable after a bail hearing and the judge has set an amount. Instead of asking the defendant to pay the bail, the court will ask the person to sign an agreement stating that he/she will pay the amount if he/she fails to appear in court on the set date.
  • Personal Recognizance – A court may release a defendant in custody on his/her recognizance, otherwise known as a PR bond. If the judge permits this kind of bail, the defendant may leave jail temporarily on condition that he/she shows up in court on the scheduled time and follow other bail requirements imposed by the court.
  • Property Bond – Under this bail, the defendant (or a third-party property owner) provides the court with a property collateral that’s equal to the complete bail amount, to secure the defendant’s release. The bail requires the defendant to give the court security interest, or the legal right to take the piece of property to recover the unpaid bail, should the defendant fail to show up in court.
  • Bail Bond – This is a type of bail payment given by a bail bond agent on the defendant’s behalf. When a detainee approaches a bail bondsman, they pay a fee, and the agent serves as a surety. This tells the court that the bondsman will pay the whole bail amount if the defendant does not turn up in court.

Bail saves taxpayers money and helps those who are in a bind get their loved one out of jail until time for their court date. It’s an important part of the legal system, and one that could be needed by anyone.

If you or a loved one needs bail, we can help. Contact us today to find out more about our rates and our services.