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Guide to Finding the Best Bail Bond Option
Finding a Bail Bond Agent
Most people do not happen to have a bail bond agent in their rolodex or on the contact list in their phone. It is most likely you will have no idea of who to call when you find yourself trying to find a way out of jail. While it is true that many states have regulations regarding how much a bail bond company can charge for their services, it is important to note that not all companies perform the same services.
The List in Jail
In many cases, you are given a list of different bail bond companies when you are taken into custody. Some holding cells will have a paper on the wall with the phone numbers near the phone. You can call them yourself or give the number to a friend or relative to call.
The Quick Get out of Jail
There are some situations that do not require you see a judge before posting bail and being released. You will need to have a bail bond agent that understands this process and knows how much the bail will be.
The Need for Collateral
Some bond companies require collateral that would have the worth of the whole bail. Instead of paying them 10 percent of the bail, they want you to bring them something with the value of the bail, it is often the title to a car or an expensive piece of jewelry.
Sometimes the court will allow you or someone on your behalf to sign a promissory note. In this case, no one pays anything unless you fail to appear at your court hearing.
When the bail set is a very large amount, you may have trouble coming up with the bond fees. They may also require that you put up a larger fee to ensure you go to court. A property bond takes time and a lot of paperwork to obtain; not all bond agencies are willing to deal with them.
Letting Your Attorney Handle Your Bail
Some attorneys are willing to put up your bail. They will just add it to their fees for the whole case. If you cannot come up with anything to pay a bondsman, this may be your best option. While you are more concerned with regaining your freedom, you need to be sure that the person helping you get out is capable of what you need. It does no good to bring in someone who will only take cash if you have none to give him.
Using a Bondsman from the Jail List
It can be a hit or miss thing when you start calling the bond companies from the list in the jail. If they are only listed alphabetically you have no way of knowing whether or not they take on the amount of bail you need to have posted. There are ways that would be more beneficial to everyone in the holding area and save time and aggravation.
A List by Specialties
It would be nice if the list was arranged so that the different crimes were listed and all the bondmen that handled that type of bond was listed under the crimes. This way, if you are being accused of a DUI you won’t try calling someone who only handles crimes against people. You would be surprised at how some agencies can only take on certain crimes. It has to do with their underwriting insurance. They may have a limit to the number of murder cases they can bail out.
Some companies may only be willing to pay up to a certain amount to get you out of jail. If your bail is higher than this, they cannot help you. Do not waste your phone call.
If you have been in jail a few times and have used a company, they may be willing to pay more than normal if you have always showed up in court when you were supposed to. If, on the other hand, they had to send out a bounty hunter to bring you in so they could have the bail returned to them, you should probably not bother calling them. Of course, if you have skipped out on your bail before, you may be blacklisted and have trouble getting anyone to pay the bail without a lot of money put down.
Make sure you know what types of payments the bond agent will accept for their fees. Some may be willing to take a credit card while others will demand cash. If you do not have the needed funds, find one that is willing to take collateral in lieu of payment. Whatever you give them will have to be worth more than the normal fees because they are going to have to sell it to get their money. Sometimes you can get good information from the other people in the holding cell with you. If they have dealt with one of the companies before they may be willing to share what they know.
When You Just Need to Pay a Fine
Believe it or not, you could be sitting behind bars for not paying an old traffic ticket. It might have been something that completely slipped your mind. It may very well have been another traffic violation that brought the whole situation to the attention of the arresting officer. Many times, in this case, you do not need to wait for a judge to decide on the amount of your bail, you just need to pay the fine and associated fees. You can use a bond agent to do this too.
Paying your Fines, Penalties and Fees
There are bound to be extra fees and penalties added on to the original fine if you are arrested on a bench warrant. The bond agent will need to be able to look up the violation and all associated money due to the court. They will pay everything for a mere 10 percent fee.
What You will Still Owe
Once you are released, you will be given a new court date. I may be more than a month down the road. When you go to court, you will be expected to pay the full amount of the fine and all penalties and warrant charges. You may be able to make a payment arrangement with the court or perform community service to work off some of what you owe.
What about the Bail Bond?
The money you gave the bail bond agent is for their services. It does not come off what you owe the court and you will not get this money back. If you do not show up for your court date, the bond agent will send someone to your house to take you to jail. You may be able to convince them to post the bail for you again if you have the 10 percent and were not too hard to track down. Of course, you will still owe the court all the fines, fees and penalties and probably a new warrant fee too. Although this type of charge is usually quick and easy to obtain a release, it does not mean you are less obligated to show up for court and pay your dues. You can have a lawyer go with you and hope for lesser fines, but unless you can prove you did not commit the offense, you will be paying something to the court. If you are able to pay the whole fine right then, you will be released and have all monies owed taken care of when you show up to court.
The Need for Collateral to Get out of Jail
Some bail bond companies are only willing to put out a lot of money if you have something of equal value. They will sell require the 10 percent fee be paid, but want to be sure they are going to have their money returned to them. If you show up to court, your collateral will be returned to you, if not, they will sell it to get their money back.
Types of Collateral
What you need to provide for collateral will depend on how much bail needs to be posted. Many people will put up the title to a car or motorcycle. The value of the vehicle is considered to be what the current blue book value is. The important thing here is that if you still owe money on the vehicle, you have to subtract that from the value. The remaining value needs to be at least twice the amount of your bail so they can be assured to get all they paid out for your freedom. If your vehicle is not going to be enough to cover your bail, you can have other things added to it to bring up the amount. If you have jewelry or antiques or electronic equipment, you can usually either offer them directly or have someone pawn them to get more money. It may be tough to come up with enough collateral to have your bail posted on your own. You may want to ask close friends and relatives if they have something they can contribute. It may take a few days to have everything taken care of so you should start getting things ready even before you see the judge and know how much your bail will be.
Retrieving your Property
It may seem like a big problem to be without your vehicle while waiting for your trial, but it is better than being locked up. You will not have your things returned to you until after you go to court. Once you show up, the court will give the bond company their money back and then they will give you your possessions back. If you had to use collateral to pay the 10 percent fee and they allowed it, you will have to come up with that money to get your things returned. Keep in mind that the bail money the bond company put up for you will not pay for any fees you may owe the court. While most often your attorney will take care of them and then you will have to pay your attorney fees.
Getting a Signature Bond
While it is not something that happens often, but there are times and circumstances that allow you to pay your bail with a signature bond. This is something very similar to taking out a signature loan.
Signature Bond Through the Court
If you are an upstanding person in the community, have no previous criminal convictions and are not considered to be a flight risk, the court may decide you are eligible for a signature bond for your bail. This is not the same thing as being released on your own recognizance although some might confuse the two. When you sign a signature bond, you are giving the court permission to attach your wages and your income tax refund if you fail to show up for court as appointed. Being released on your own recognizance requires no bail to be posted at all.
Signature Bond Through a Bondsman
When you talk to a bail bond agent, you can ask if they allow signature bonds. It is not very often that they offer this, but if you have the credit and standing in society, you might be able to get one. Of course, it will most likely cost you more than just 10 percent even if you show up to court. They are taking a bigger risk on you so they will want more money for their services.
What Happens After you go to court
When you have a signature bond, it is your good name that gets the bond. When you go to court, they mark the note as void for the court. If you owe money for fines or fees, you will still have to pay them because you have not paid anything yet. If you used a bail bond agent for the bond, the court releases the bond back to the agent. He will then come to you to get any unpaid money for his services. Again, if you owe the court for fees, this will still be owed. All the court fees may have been paid by your attorney who will just add these fees to what you owe him. Unfortunately, even if you are completely innocent of the crime, you still have to pay the price of being accused unless you have the money to pay the full amount of your bail and use a court appointed attorney. If you use a private attorney, it will cost you even more money.
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