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Before deciding your Bail Bondsman

Asking the right questions before deciding your bail bondsman

In a scenario when the accused is arrested on criminal charges, the bail bondsman is the first person he would seek to contact, the troubleshooter that will get him out of jail in the shortest possible time.

Perhaps this is a scenario that has been played out in your family or that of a close friend who has landed behind bars and has asked you to bail him out. How is it possible to help your friend or family member? What does the process involve and who do you approach to get the job done? More important, how do you zero in on the right bail bond company?

Well, to begin with these are a few pertinent questions that you can address to the bail bondsman you may choose to contact.

How much will it take to get the accused out on bail?

Rates are fixed, though they differ widely from state to state, but generally speaking you could expect bail bondsmen to charge a percentage (mostly 8% to 10%) of the total bail amount set by the judge in a bail hearing. You should hear a warning bell if the bondsman offers anything like a discount which could indicate that the bondsman is operating illegally and cannot be trusted as a licensed and independent professional or company.

There will be some additional charges too and a licensed bondsman will gladly display a chart listing his expenses and charge you accordingly without compromising on the premium of 10% of the original bail amount.

How long will it take to get your man out of jail, and can you do anything to speed up matters?

Beyond the paperwork and legwork that a bail bondsman has to shoulder, he cannot give any assurances on how the proceedings will go. What happens in the bail hearing in court is outside the purview of his limited responsibilities. But he can tell you pretty accurately the timeframe involved in securing the release of the accused once bail formalities are put through.

The moment that the accused is in police custody and imprisoned, the legal system responds with a great deal of care and scrutiny. This is bound to delay release and family members will have to exercise some patience. There is little else anybody can do at this point.

Are bail bond procedures complicated? What needs to be done by the person facilitating the bail?

The experienced bail bondsman should be able to give you a clear idea about the step by step procedures involved in securing bail for the accused.

  • You need to share as much information as possible with the bail bondman so that he gets a clear picture of the accused, details of the crime he is currently charged with, his background and his ties with the community and whether or not there is a criminal record scarring his immediate past.

This information will be mulled over by the bail bondsman to assess whether the accused is reliable enough to meet bail conditions and cooperate with the law and judicial process. If it is the first offense of the accused and not too serious in nature without any prior record of criminal activities, the bail process should be concluded smoothly.

  • The family member or co-signor needs to complete the bail documents and sign a bail bond application, along with an indemnity agreement and collect the receipt for fee payment.
  • Soon after, the bail bondsman posts the bail and arranges for the release of the accused.

Is the bail bondsman or company properly licensed to perform the job?

In the state of California all bail bondsmen and companies furnishing bail bonds are under license to the California Department of insurance, and only such licensed entities have the right to post bonds in court. The license should be current and valid, and the company should have an impeccable reputation and standing. Do not hesitate, for niceties sake, to ask and examine the bail bondsman’s identification and verify the license before you commit to do business or part with your money.

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Have you identified a bail bondsman who happens to be in your area?

Being in different areas poses problems because the company will have to arrange another bondsman to actually post the bail, and this involves additional expenditure for you by way of posting fees. The best solution to avoid unwanted expenditure is to select a bondsman preferably located near to the jail where the accused is being held.

What is the responsibility of the indemnitor that facilitates the bail?

It could be either a friend of the accused or a family member, but the indemnitor or the person actually facilitating the bail does so on the understanding that he assumes complete responsibility for the accused attending court in all subsequent hearings. If for any reason whatsoever the accused fails to show up later or absconds, the indemnitor will not only have to help the authorities locate the accused, but the indemnitor will also be required to forfeit the entire bail amount to the court.

What happens when the accused, out on bail, fails to attend a court hearing?

The court issues a warrant for the arrest of the accused who will figure in police bulletins as a fugitive from justice. The social impact of jumping bail can be disastrous for the family of the accused as the bail bondsman and law enforcement will be attempting to locate the accused by placing calls to relatives, colleagues at the work place and references which can create intensely embarrassing moments for loved ones. Bail bondsmen have also been known to hire the services of bounty hunters to locate and apprehend accused on the run.

This is barely an overview of the bail bond process showing some variation in different states. But the details broadly apply to how the system operates everywhere. Understanding the system enables the family of the accused to take the right decisions and act with care and responsibility when the situation begs for the intervention of the bail bondsman.

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