Do you have a family member who has been charged with a serious crime and needs to post bail so that they can remain at home until their trial or court appearance? If so, then it's time to acquaint yourself in more detail with the bail system of courts in the United States. Here is an overview of some of the key points to keep in mind.
Pay with Cash
The best option is just to pay with cash out of your own pocket. You will not be out any money of your own as long as the person charged attends all of their court appearances. At the end of the process, when the defendant is either sentenced or found not guilty, you simply apply to the court and receive your refund. Of course, if you post a cash bond for someone else you must be sure that they plan to show up at all of their court dates. If they do not, then you lose your money.
Cash bail is somewhat atypical in most jurisdictions because only affluent individuals have the means to use this method. For the average defendant, bail amounts are simply too large for the person charged or their family to pay them in full. Usually, bail must be obtained through a bonding agent through the use of collateral.
When you go to a bail agent for a bail bond, they will generally require you to put up 10 percent of the bond on your own, although this amount can vary by jurisdiction. They will put up the rest themselves. The 10 percent you put up is not refundable and is the agent's fee for helping to assist you. The agent may ask for other fees upfront as well, depending on state law and the bond company's policies.
A common type of collateral is a residence. For example, if you decide to secure bail for a family member, the bond company may ask for a lien on your home. If you sign the lien, then the bond firm can take your home if the defendant does not show up for their court appearances. Other frequently seen types of property used as collateral include raw land, boats, and cars.
The bail process is tricky to navigate because the details tend to vary from state to state and from court jurisdiction to court jurisdiction. For the best results, it's important to consult with a criminal attorney who has expertise in this area of the law. Click here for more info.
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