Taking out a bail bond for a friend or loved one can come with many risks. Being prepared can help you avoid some pitfalls.
1. Assess Risk Realistically
When you take out a bail bond for someone, you are responsible for the money -- not the person that was bailed out. Just because someone is family or a close friend doesn't mean that they can be trusted to fulfill their responsibilities to the court and the bond agent upon release. If the person has a history of jumping bail or avoiding the repercussions of their actions, then it may not be worth the risk to take responsibility for their bail.
2. Be Careful With Collateral
Depending on a variety of factors, such as your credit history and the amount of bail, you may be required to put up something as collateral. Be very careful if you go this route and do not use anything that you would be devastated to lose. For example, don't use the deed to your home or the title of your car if you would be unable to pay back the bond in the event the person jumped bail. You don't want to wind up homeless due to the irresponsibility of someone else.
3. Consider The Fee Amount
A bonds company makes money off of the fees they charge. These are highly regulated, so most bond agents will charge very similar percentages on their bond loans. The fees are typically due upfront, before the bond is issued and the person is released. You will have to pay these fees out of pocket. If this will be a financial strain, you may want to verify that the person whom you are bailing out can repay you promptly, otherwise you will be out this money.
4. Learn the Process
The bond process is similar in most states. The accused will go in for a preliminary bond hearing, in which the judge will set the bail amount. The accused can post bail themselves if they have access to the cash, otherwise they must ask family and friends for the money. You will have the choice to pay out of pocket or take out a bail bond to cover the amount. The benefit of paying out of pocket is there are no fees, but you will lose the aid of a bonds agent in the search for the accused if they end up jumping bail.
5. Take Personal Responsibility
Always remember that in the end, you are the one responsible for the bond amount. Be active in the accused's day to day life until all court proceedings are complete and the bond has been released. Check in with them daily and make sure they make it to all court dates on time as required.
Contact a bail bonds service like Abel Bail Bonds if you need further information or assistance.