When a friend, family member, or co-worker calls you from jail, asking if you could help them post bail, it’s probably the last call that you would expect to get. Being asked to post bail is a big responsibility, especially when bail amounts can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Even when you do have the funds available, it’s a large responsibility being placed on your shoulders. If you’re not sure what the bail bond process is, what a bail bond is, or what your responsibilities are, it’s essential that you get some basic information before you agree to pay the bail amount.
ASAP Bail Bonds is a 24-hour bail bonds service helping defendants throughout the Lawrenceville Gwinnett County area. If you have been arrested, or a loved one is in jail after an arrest and bail has been set by the arresting officer or a judge, we can help make sure that no one spends more time in jail than necessary. Our bail bond company offers some of the lowest fees and we offer support and guidance throughout the court process. Above all, we want to ensure that this situation is as stress-free as possible. Contact us right away for quick and efficient bail bonds.
Before you pay the court so that your loved one can be released from custody, here are some things you need to know:
First, What is Bail?
When someone is arrested for a crime, they are often taken into custody and are held until their court hearing. In many cases, the arresting officer or a judge will set a bail amount. The bail amount is set based on several factors, such as the type of crime that was committed, if there is a criminal record, and if there is a risk that the defendant will not show up to their court hearing. The money paid to the court acts as an assurance that the defendant appears at their court hearing, and if they don’t, then the money will be forfeited.
A Bail Bond is a Loan
If your loved one called from jail asking you to help post bail through a bail bondsman, the money is similar to a loan. When a bail bond company pays the bail on the defendant’s behalf, this is called a bond. This third party will pay the court so that your loved one can be released from custody. In return, the bail bond service will charge a fee, which is a certain percentage of the total bail amount. Fees can vary, but is typically between 10% and 15%. When bail is set for $10,000, and the fee is 12%, you would be responsible for paying the bail bondsman $1,200. This is similar to paying interest on a car loan, however, in the case of a bail bond, you do get back the remaining $8,800 that the bail bond service lent you or paid to the court on your loved one’s behalf.
It’s Not Always Necessary
In some cases, again depending on certain factors, the judge may decide that the defendant can be released from custody on their own recognizance. This means that the judge has determined that your loved one is not a flight risk, they do not pose a threat to the general public, and there is not a risk that they will commit another crime. Your loved one will still be responsible for certain conditions that are set in place to ensure that you appear at your court hearing. These conditions can include getting consent before leaving the state or signing a waiver of extradition if they are arrested outside of the state.
If You Post Bail For Someone Else, You Are Responsible
When you do not hire a bail bondsman and post bail with your own money, you are their “indemnitor.” This means that you are responsible for what they do while released on bail and must ensure that they appear at their court hearing.
- If the defendant flees while on bail, you are responsible for finding them and bringing them back as well as any costs that were incurred in the process.
- If they get arrested while on bail and the bail is revoked, you are responsible for paying the entire bail amount (you will not get any of the money back).
- If they break any of the established conditions of bail, you are responsible for any of the financial consequences.
- If you use your home, or other assets as collateral, a lien may be placed on the house.
Using your own money to post bail for a loved one is a significant responsibility and could put yourself at risk. Unless you fully and completely trust your loved one, it may be best to hire a bail bonds company.
The Money is Returned, But…
When posting bail on someone’s behalf, you will get a majority of the money back when the court proceedings have been completed. There is some peace of mind in this; however, the entire court process can last several weeks, months, or even years depending on the severity of the case. If you can be without hundreds or thousands of dollars for several months, then there is nothing to worry about. On the other hand, if an unexpected emergency arises or if your loved one breaks a condition of bail or is arrested again, you may not ever get the money back.
The Bail Bond Industry is Regulated by the State
Despite a common misconception, the bail bond industry is highly regulated and in order to create a bail bond company, the owner must be licensed by the state and must follow all regulations. In the state of Georgia, when the bail is set for $10,000 or less, the fee is 12%. When bail is $10,000 or more, the fee is 15%. Before you agree to hire a bail bond service for a loved one, find out what their bail is set for and determine how much money you will need to pay the service.
Other Things You Need to Know Before Posting Bail:
- The arrested person’s full name, including their first, last, and middle name.
- Where they are being held.
- What charges they were arrested for. Whether it’s a minor charge or a major felony can provide some insight into how long the court proceedings will last as well as the bail amount.
- The exact amount bail was set for. For misdemeanors, the bail amount may be set based on bail schedules. For more serious crimes, bail will be set at the arraignment, which will occur within 72 hours of the arrest.
- The case number. Having the case number will speed up the process in busier cities.
It might not seem like posting bail for someone is a big responsibility, but it could mean losing your time and money if the situation escalates. If you’re not comfortable offering up your own money to post bail, don’t hesitate to reach out to ASAP Bail Bonds in Gwinnett County. We have been in the bail bond industry for years and we know exactly what needs to be done. We can even help your loved one understand their responsibilities during the court process. Contact us today if you have any questions.