You've just received a call from jail. Your friend or family member has been arrested. If that's happening, you're probably wondering what you should do next. Well, if the court has set bail, you may need to bail your loved one out of jail.
Luckily, the process is easier than you think, but it can be confusing if you've never gone through it before. To help you out, here's an overview of the steps involved.
1. Find Out What Type of Bail The Courts Require
There are several different types of bail. If the judge has requested cash bail, your only option is to pay that amount directly to the courts. Generally, it has to be in cash or in verified funds such as money orders or cashier's checks. Some areas let you use a credit card.
There are also property bonds. With that option, you have to give the courts a deed to a piece of property that you own outright or have ample equity in. Finally, if the courts have requested a surety bond, you can pay the bail amount directly, but if you can't afford it, you can work with a bail bonds company.
2. Gather Information and Contact a Bail Agent
If you decide to work with a bail agent, you need to have a bit of information about the situation. Typically, you need to know the name of the person who has been arrested, the name of the jail, and the amount of the bail. It also helps to know the booking number.
3. Pay the Fee and Sign the Forms
Bail agents require you to pay a fee for their services. The cost varies from company to company, but it's often a percentage of the total bail plus a set fee that is not refundable.
You also have to sign a few forms. In particular, you may need to sign forms that outline your responsibilities and risks if the individual does not show up for court.
4. Think About Your Risks
Whether you work with a bail bond agent or pay bail directly to the courts, it's important to understand your financial risks. Namely, bail acts as a bond or assurance that the accused person will return for the trial.
As long as the individual shows up for the trial, you get a refund. However, if the individual doesn't show up, you risk losing your money and property.
When you work with a bail bond company, the company pays bail to the courts. Again, if the accused shows up for trial, the bail bond company gets a refund, but if the accused does not show up, the bail bond company loses its money.
The bail bond company holds you responsible if the individual doesn't show up for court. Typically, the agreement you sign with the bail company states that the company can seize assets your assets, garnish wages and more to cover the amount of the loss.
Make sure that you fully comprehend the risks to yourself before you help out anyone with bail. Ultimately, if that person flees the country, you may be responsible for the bail amount but also for bond forfeiture fees, court costs, collection fees, bounty hunter fees and other related costs.
5. Remind the Individual to Show Up for Court
If you decide to bail your loved one out of jail, you may want to remind that person to show up for court. That extra help may be just what your friend or loved one needs.
Need help bailing a loved one out of jail? Have additional questions about the process? Then, contact us at Austin Bail bonds today.