Today, the process is so simplified that if you prefer you can do everything over the phone or by email. This is really helpful if you live far from the court and the bondsman can be indespensible in helping you from a distance.

How does a bail bondsman work?

The court will issue the bail amount. It will then be up to you to come up with the money. If you have cash, you can post the bail yourself. The downside is that your money may be held by the court for a long time and if the defendant misses a court date, you could be out of the money. If you are unable or don’t want to pay cash, you can go through a bail bond agency.

How does bail work?

The bail bondsman makes his money by fronting the bail amount to the court and charging you a percentage of it. If the defendant fufills all court appearances, the bondsman will receive a refund of his money from the court.

Most bail bond agencies and their fees are licensed and regulated by government agencies.

How do they post bail, and what do I need to know?

The first step is for the bondsman to walk you through the entire process before asking you to sign a contract. Make sure you understand all charges, premiums, and other fees, as well as exactly what the bail bondsman will do. It is important that you understand everything.

They will ask you for various types of information, although this varies greatly by jurisdiction and by the bail bonding agency. They may ask your name, what city you live in, your phone number and email, your birthdate, your place of work, the defendant’s name, defendant’s birthday, when was the defendant arrested, what your relationship is to the defendant, and what jail or city the defendant is in. Even if you are not prepared with this information, you can still start the process, and in many cases, the bond agents have access to databases that will fill in the information gaps for you. Be upfront with them, they have seen a lot worse than your case, so they don’t pass judgement and they never ask “why.” If you are concerned about your privacy, we recommend that you initially contact the bail agents via email or on their website chat rooms where you are anonymous. You can ask them if they share your information and what they do with it before you hand it over to them. Email addresses can be found on any bail bonds websites. Also, ideally you would want them to respond in writing in an email that they will not share any of your personal information. Some are upfront and disclose this on their websites.

Forms will usually need to be filled out and signed. They may include an information sheet, application and agreement, and perhaps a promissory note among others.

After reviewing the defendant and the case, the bondsman will tell you how much you will need to pay him for the bail service.

They will usually accept cash, cashiers checks, credit cards, wire transfers, and MoneyGrams. They may also run a credit report on you.

If you do not have the funds or can’t find affordable bail bonds, they will normally work with collateral. Most bondsmen will look seriously at any collateral you may have including titles to cars, trucks, houses and other deeds of trust. It helps if the collateral is lien free, and properly deeded or legally documented. In some cases, gemstones, gold, jewelry, stock certificates, credit cards, various forms of equipment and other items of value can also be used. In some cases, the bondsman will even help you refinance your home. TIP: some bondsmen are really open to creative collateral so don’t be afraid to ask. Also, there are cases where, when asked, they will provide financing of your cost so you have ZERO out of pocket expenses up front. Some will also allow you to pay what you can and they will finance the rest.

After agreeing to the amount and the service, you will need to complete a few documents. While it varies by state and jurisdiction, they might include a bail bond application and a bail indemnity agreement.

The bondsman will then post bail, and the defendant will be freed. TIP: an attorney I interviewed gave me this great tip, sometimes a case will take more than a year, but the bond is usually only good for a year and then you have to pay again based on what bail is at that time. Around the 10th or 11th month you may want to have your attorney request a bail reduction from the court. If you have been meeting all your court dates, they may reduce or even waive the bail. This will save you a lot of money when you have to renew bail.

TIP: We recommend visiting a bail bond company’s website and contacting them by email or phone for further questions about your specific situation.  Because of the nature of their business, they are usually quick to respond and I have found them to be very professional, helpful and non-judgemental.  Their email and phone numbers are always clearly listed on their website and most are open 24 hours.

Nothing stated herein should be construed or interpreted to grant rights or remedies not otherwise granted under federal or state law. This information is provided as a public service and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice or representation by a lawyer or bail bondsman. We recommend you email a bail bondsman for more information about your situation.

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