Following an initial arrest on charges, if bail is provided, it is generally set in a few hours, but some first hearings may occur more quickly based on the timing of a warrant or arrest. After bail is set, it needs to be paid in order to secure release from jail.
A suspect can meet the full amount of bail to secure release immediately. However, if the amount is too high to cover or payment would create a tenuous situation with personal finances and cash flow, the services of a bondsman can be used. A family member or friend can also coordinate with a bail bondsman to secure the release of a suspect, but there are additional considerations to review before doing so.
Initial fee coverage
A bail bondsman requires an initial fee to secure the release of a suspect. This fee is set by law in individual states with 10% being a common amount. When this service is used, the 10% fee is not refundable and covers the administrative costs assumed by the company and provides a level of compensation for the risk involved in meeting bail. If generating 10% of bail is a difficult task, it's possible to pool resources with others or ask the person in custody if there is a bank account or accessible cash that can be accessed to put up the fee.
The fee to a bail bondsman only covers 10% of the total bail cost, so the bondsman also requires collateral that would cover the full bail amount if the suspect missed court appearances and the court revoked bail. For example, if bail is set at $100,000, a $10,000 fee is required to post bail, and another $90,000 in collateral may be required. State statutes can differ here with some allowing for full coverage with collateral. In some areas, it's possible for collateral requirements to exceed total bail when a suspect is a flight risk. By inflating the requirements, the company creates a safety net to recoup both bail costs and the costs associated with seizing and selling the collateral if it becomes necessary.
A bail bondsman can accept a variety of items as collateral. Financial products, such as credit cards or a non-revocable loan certificate can meet collateral requirements. Property can also be combined or provided individually to meet the bail needs. Real estate-based bonds are very popular, and a bondsman may also take a lien on a car, jewelry, or precious metals. When securing the release of a friend or family member, it's important to consider the chances of the suspect skipping court and the prospects of losing property. Only offer up items for collateral that could be lost without impacting one's quality of life.
For more information, reach out to a bondsman near you to learn more.