Knowing that a loved one is counting on you to bail them out of jail can be stressful. It's important to understand what it means to purchase a bail bond. You may be dealing with a variety of situations and being released from jail can be accomplished in more than one way. For a quick summary of the types of bail and release situations you might encounter, read on.
This type of release costs nothing but the defendant must follow the rules. Own recognizance releases are based on the criminal record of the defendant along with the crime charged. Misdemeanors committed by first-time offenders who live in the area and are employed often merit own-recognizance releases from jail. You can just pick your loved one up when they call you for a ride with no need to arrange bail.
You might not consider a traffic ticket as serious, but you can be arrested if you fail to pay the ticket or appear in court. However, reckless driving and driving under the influence can mean an arrest. Be sure to read the tiny print on the back of the ticket and note the dates.
Paying the Bail Using a Bail Schedule
If your loved one has enough money available, they can pay the bail directly to the jail and be released right away. Some jails have posted bail schedules for common offenses. They may also provide an ATM for the use of the inmate.
Paying Bail to the Court
Most defendants find out about bail at their arraignment. If they opt to pay the full amount to the court, they will be refunded the full amount when their case is over. Bail, however, can often be very expensive and few have enough funds to pay the full amount.
Buying a Bail Bond
Bail bonds are offered by third-party agencies that work with the court system to arrange for the release of a defendant. Bail bonds are a percentage of the full bail amount. If your loved one's full bail amount is $5,000 and the bail bonding agency charges a 10% fee, the bail bond will cost $500. That is more affordable than the full bail amount. However, the bail bond fees are not refundable.
If your loved one is being held pending bail, speak to a friendly bail agent in your area about how affordable a jail release can be.