By Marc Emden, Esq. and Tacoma Strange, Able Bail Bonds, Inc.
Lawyers from this office can appear before the person (the commissioner) who sets your bond when a warrant is issued for your arrest. If your criminal lawyer appears on your behalf when a warrant is issued for your arrest, he oftentimes can persuade the commissioner to set a low bond or no bond at all. This saves you money and avoids your incarceration before your trial date.
In general, if you get arrested for a relatively serious crime, you can be incarcerated until the date of your trial, unless the judge sets the conditions under which you may be released. Satisfying these conditions is known as posting a bond for your release.
The following are common questions and answers arising out of accepting the services of bail bondsmen:
What is a Bail Bondsman?
A bail bondsman is someone who will pay your bond for you for a fee. He bears the risk that you may not show up for trial.
What Do I Have to Agree to with the Bail Bondsman?
Typically you will have to pay a 10% fee to the bail bondsman – so if the bail amount set by the judge of District Court Commissioner is $10,000, you will have to pay the bail bondsman $1,000. The bail bondsman may also require you to provide collateral.
What is Collateral?
Collateral is anything of value given to secure the bail bond. In other words, something of value (usually land or property) given to the bail bondsman to ensure the accused shows up for any court appearances scheduled. The collateral must be returned after the accused has fulfilled all court appearances. If you do not own a home to post as collateral, you may have to pay a fee for a bondsman to post a bond.
Do I Get My Money Back?
The fee you pay the bail bondsman is non-refundable.
What Does a One-Percent Bail Bond Mean?
Some defendants may be unable to come up with the 10% fee upfront. To get your business, the BB may only require you to pay 1% of the fee in advance, and then have you sign a promissory note for the remaining 9%. Be careful, if you do not comply with the payment arrangements in the note, you may be liable for interest and any attorneys fees the bail bondsman may incur to collect the balance of his fee.
What is My Part in this Process?
You and/or your friend or family member (a) pays the fee to the bail bondsman, (b) are responsible for making sure the accused shows up for court, (c) assist the bail bondsman with locating the accused if they skip court, (d) and paying any fees for locating the accused if they skip court.
In addition to the benefit of avoiding incarcerating pending trials, your posting bail allows the accused to continue to provide for his or her family while preparing for trial. If the accused’s family member has limited resources, however, they may have to choose between paying a bondman’s fee and hiring an attorney to represent them. This is not always an easy choice.
Paying a bail bond is typically a quick and easy process that takes less than 15 minutes and involves providing photo IDs, and title documents to deeds to property, if the collateral is permitted. However, as with other contracts, it is important that you understand the terms of the document you are signing, and the possible actions the bondsman could take against you if your family member or friend does not appear in court for their trial.
By Marc Emden, Esquire