The bail procedure
What is a bail bond?
A monetary guarantee for the court that a defendant will appear each and every time they are ordered to do so while their case is pending.
How much will bail cost me?
In most states, generally, ten percent of the bail amount (except for Federal and Immigration cases, which may be as high as fifteen percent), plus actual, necessary and reasonable expenses incurred in connection with the transaction. The court determines the amount of the bond.
Each surety company must file rates with the Department of Insurance. Bail agents representing a company must charge the same, filed rates. A “Rate Chart” is required to be posted in a visible location at every bail bond office.
Do I need collateral?
That depends on you, your bail agent and the amount of your bail. Every case is different. Sometimes a co-signer is sufficient.
What can I put up for collateral?
Anything which you own and has significant resale value is good collateral.
Real estate may be put up based on equity. For example, a house on which you pay a mortgage is considered good collateral up to the difference between it’s value and the amount you still owe on the mortgage.
Note that except for a house, items which you have bought on credit and are making payments are not usually collateral unless you hold the title (a.k.a. pink slip). For example; A car on which you have a loan in which the lender holds the title and you make payments is not collateral because lender has a lien on the vehicle. You may keep possession of major collateral items (e.g. House, Boat, Cars, as long as the Bail Agent holds the title (a.k.a. pink slip).
Personal items of high value (e.g. jewelry, fire arms, computers, cameras, stereos) can be used as collateral but normally must be surrendered to the Bail Agent who will hold them in a safe or other secure place. These items are normally valued at their current resale value, not what you originally paid for them.
What is the consumer agreeing to in the bail bond contract?
The consumer is agreeing to:
- Pay the premium for the bond at the established rates.
- Provide required collateral.
Pay actual, necessary and reasonable expenses incurred by the bail agent in connection with the transaction. These may include:
- Reimbursement for long distance phone calls.
- Excess travel expenses (described as outside of the bail agent’s normal scope of business, or into an area where the agent does not advertise).
- Posting fees (for payment to an agent in another area to physically deliver a bond. An agent should not charge a posting fee for the normal delivery of a bond in the agent’s advertising area).
- Bounty agent/skip tracer expenses (These are usually based upon the amount of the bond).
- Payment of the bond amount for the defendant’s failure to appear.
* Attorney fees and court costs.
Keep the bail agent advised of address/employment changes of the defendant or other parties to the agreement. Aid the bail agent/skip tracers in locating the defendant (where someone other than the defendant has secured the bond). The consumer should read all agreements thoroughly, asking questions until all items and obligations are understood.