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The Bail Bonds Process Explained

by Leslee Jones

When a person is arrested and taken to jail, bond must be paid before that person is allowed to leave jail. Bonding, or "bailing" someone out of jail usually means a friend or family member has visited the jail and paid the bond amount set by a judge. Bonds represent a financial guarantee that the person leaving jail will return to face a judge for sentencing at a future court hearing.

Bail bond amounts are based on the following factors:

*Severity of the crime committed

*Existence of a previous arrest record

*If the defendant has a history of failing to appear after posting bond
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How Bonds are Calculated

If a bail amount is set at $5000, the suspect will need to pay 10 percent of that amount ($500) to the jail before being released. Alternately, $20,000 bond requires $2000, a $100,000 bond necessitates $10,000, and so on. The majority of jails only accept cash or cashier's checks to satisfy a bond requirement.

Using a Bail Bondsman

When detainees cannot gather enough funds to bail out of jail, they often turn to a bail bondsman so they do not have to remain in jail until their court date. The bail bondsman will pay the suspect's bond and generally charge between 10 and 15 percent of the bond amount for bailing the suspect out of jail. This percentage is not refundable by the suspect.

How Bonds are Calculated

If a bail amount is set at $5000, the suspect will need to pay 10 percent of that amount ($500) to the jail before being released. Alternately, $20,000 bond requires $2000, a $100,000 bond necessitates $10,000, and so on. The majority of jails only accept cash or cashier's checks to satisfy a bond requirement.

Using a Bail Bondsman

When detainees cannot gather enough funds to bail out of jail, they often turn to a bail bondsman so they do not have to remain in jail until their court date. The bail bondsman will pay the suspect's bond and generally charge between 10 and 15 percent of the bond amount for bailing the suspect out of jail. This percentage is not refundable by the suspect.
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If the person involved with contacting the bail bondsman (friend, family member or suspect) cannot prove that he or she has the means to pay this percentage, the bondsman may ask that the person sign over collateral as a way to ensure the suspect appears in court and the bondsman receives his payment. Accepted collateral includes houses, vehicles, jewelry or other salable items possessing value commensurate with the bond amount.

As long as the suspect appears in court on the date scheduled and adheres to any restrictions tied to the bond, the money is returned to the bondsman and the case is considered closed by the bail bond company. However, when suspects fail to appear, the courts keep the bond, leaving the bail bondsman owning an insurance company for the bond money or suffering personal, out-of-pocket expenses.

Benefits of Using a Bail Bonds Agency

*Bail bondsmen are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week

*Variety of payment options facilitates bonding someone out of jail within several hours following arrest

*Having the full amount of the bond is not required

*Using a bail bondsman is completely confidential

*Allows a suspect to prepare for trial outside of jail

*Bail bondsmen are experts in criminal law and will take care of all necessary documentation during the bonding process

*Bailing out a suspect as soon as possible using an experienced bondsman ensures the safety of the suspect. Many people who are arrested and put in jail suffer some kind of injury due to the actions of other detainees with which they are housed

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