How Do Bail Bonds Work?

If one of your friends or family members has recently been arrested, they are likely in need of some money for getting bailed out. Since, in the United States, citizens are innocent until proven guilty, bail is a way for someone to attain freedom until they have a trial. Posting bail for someone can be extremely expensive, depending on what crime they are accused of committing. One way of getting bail money in a quick and relatively painless way is to go through a bail bondsman. There are a few things you will want to understand about this process before you sign any papers.

How It Works

When you walk into a bail bonds business, you will talk to a bail bonds agent about the circumstances of your friend or family member's arrest. If you agree on the price and the terms, you will sign the papers and leave with the money you need. You will then pay the money to the jail, and your loved one will be released with the understanding that they will return for their mandatory court date. Once they return, your money will be returned to you (potentially with some court fees removed), and you will then return that money to the bail bonds agent, completing your transaction.

The Fee

Since bail bond agencies are a business, they will not lend you money for free. Most bail bondsmen will charge 10-15% of your bail as a payment for their services. 

Potential Consequences

Let's say that your friend or family member decides to run after getting bailed out (meaning they do not return to their court date). You and your friend will be in big trouble. For example, the bail bonds agent will be contacting you about paying back your loan, and they may even hire a bounty hunter to find your friend and return them to court so that they can recover their bail money. Getting tracked down by a bounty hunter is not an enjoyable experience, and should be avoided altogether by attending court when required. 

In conclusion, when used responsibly, bail bond agencies are extremely useful and fair. However, if you have any doubts about the person you are bailing out skipping out on their trial, you should not invest in posting bail to get them out of jail. You will want to calculate any financial risks before agreeing to a bail bond.