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How Do Bail Bonds Work?

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No one is ever really ready for an unexpected midnight call from a distraught friend or family member telling you they are in jail and need your help. Your heart races, and your first thought is figuring out how to get them out as quickly as you can.

In most cases, the fastest way to get someone out of jail is through a bail bondsman. Equally important is knowing a little about the process of bail bonds so you know what to expect when this happens.

The first thing that happens when someone is arrested and taken into custody is the ride to the jail for booking. This process involves fingerprinting, mug shots, a warrant search and a background check on the person arrested. The officer searches the defendant for any type of drugs, weapons, or contraband, and the personal belongings of the defendant are collected and locked up until they are released. Typically, this takes anywhere from two to six hours to process. Depending on how busy the jail is, it could take longer.

Next, a bail amount is set for the defendant. At this point, they can try to make arrangements for someone to post their bail. This is when they are allowed time to make phone calls to a bail bondsman, a friend, an attorney, or someone in their family. The bail amount set for the defendant is set based on several factors.

When bail is being considered, a judge will look at past criminal records. Someone who has an existing criminal record will have a higher bail set than someone who has no past history. Another factor determining bail is the severity of the crime committed. Bail amount is set a lot higher for serious crimes.

Additionally, if the judge feels the person might run and not show up for court, the bail amount will be higher. The purpose of a high bail ensures the defendant returns to court to face the charges. When the bail amount is as high as several hundreds of thousands of dollars, most people cannot pay it. Some sign over their homes as a form of collateral to have their loved one released.

If someone can pay the entire bail amount, they will need to appear with cash or a cashier’s check made payable to the courthouse or jail. Once the case goes to trial and the defendant shows up, the money is given back to you once the case is resolved. Oftentimes, this can take years before you see your money.

Consequently, most people choose to work directly with a bail bondsman. The bail bonds Fort Lauderdale bondsman is more affordable and charges you a percentage of the bail. Most states charge approximately 10% of the total bond amount to get someone out of jail. For example, if the person has a $10,000 bond, the bondsman would collect $1,000 from you to get the person out of jail, but that fee is not refundable.

Once you sign a bond and bail the person out of jail, you are contractually agreeing that the person will show up for court. If not, you are responsible for helping the bondsman track them down if they run. Failing to appear in court is a big deal, and it becomes a big responsibility on your part once you have signed the bond. You need to be sure the person plans to appear in court if you decide to sign their bond.