The phone call no one wants to receive: a friend or family member calling you from a county jail, wanting help posting bail. As the initial surprise sets in, you gather your wits and ask the caller for important facts you’ll need to post the bail. You make sure to write down where the person is being held, his or her booking number, and the amount of bail.
When the phone call ends, you find yourself facing a decision. Should you make a large withdrawal from your personal savings account on the way to the county jail? Or should you call a bail bond company instead? Read on to learn why a bail bond company may be your best bet in a scenario like this one.
1. You Can’t Pay for the Entire Bail Amount
In a previous blog post, we gave an overview of standard bail amounts in the Las Vegas area. Looking at that information, you’ll discover that bail for felonies begins at $5,000, and bail for a misdemeanor won’t be lower than $1,000.
The court uses those standard bail amounts because they match the severity of the associated crimes but aren’t excessive. The court wants to ensure that bail imposes enough of a hardship that the charged person has a motivation to show up in court after being released. Remember, when you post the full bail amount yourself, you may or may not receive the entire amount back; the judge reserves the right to use your fees for fines and restitution.
What if you don’t have the full bail amount available? In this case, you can contact a bail bond company. You pay them a percentage of the bail as a fee. In return, they post the full bail and assume the responsibility for ensuring the charged person appears in court.
You may even worry that you don’t have enough available cash to cover the fees of a bail bond company. In this case, you can still contact a local bail bond company. Many accept credit cards instead of cash as a form of payment. Some bail bond companies also offer financing options. You set up a payment schedule for the bail company’s fee, and they post the full bail amount right away so your friend or family member gets released from jail.
2. You Need Your Savings for Other Expenses or Purchases
Saving money takes effort and will power. You may want to purchase front-row concert tickets, a Mediterranean cruise, a new smartphone, or a speedy car. Or perhaps you’re stockpiling cash to pay for big upcoming expenses, like the birth of a new baby, property taxes, or starting your own business.
No matter what you have your savings earmarked for, you likely don’t want to get sidetracked from your goal to pay for someone’s bail. You also don’t want to run the risk that you permanently lose that savings if the charged person fails to appear in court. If you ask a bail bond company to post bail instead, you can hold on to the majority of your savings and pay only a one-time, reasonable fee.
3. You Don’t Want to Use Personal Property as Collateral
With a typical bail situation, the cash paid as bail acts as collateral. Collateral is any valuable item used to secure a transaction between two parties. Usually one party holds collateral from the other party so that the second party gets something they want right away but still feels obliged to meet conditions set by the first party.
In the case of bail, the bail bonds company takes money from the charged person as collateral. In return, the charged person gets released from jail. However, the charged person knows he or she can get the collateral back by appearing in court on the designated day.
You may be aware that you can use assets other than cash as collateral for bail. Bail bond companies in many states will accept items like the following instead:
- Houses, land, or other real estate
- Precious metals or gems
When you post these items as collateral for bail, the bail bondsman has the right to take ownership of the property if the charged person fails to appear in court. If you don't have enough money to pay the full bail amount but you do own valuable property, you have the option of using your property as collateral instead.
However, there is some risk in using personal property as bail collateral. You could lose the property if the charged person doesn’t show up in court. A bail bond company can help you avoid using these valuable assets as collateral for bail if you prefer not to do so.
Even though bail amounts fit the crime, you may not want to hand over that amount to a court to release someone you know from jail. In that case, trust a bail bond company to cover the full amount of a person’s bail.