When you think about posting bail, you may immediately think of two things: how much cash do I have in the bank or I need to find someone to post bail. Finding someone to post bail can be very easy. The bondsman will come and meet you at the police station, go over the contract with you, and post the bond. Some may not fully understand what they are signing and the responsibility of signing a contract.
A bail bond is a written promise signed by a defendant and surety to ensure that a criminal defendant will appear in court at the scheduled time and date, as ordered by the court. When someone is arrested for a crime, they are usually held in jail until the date they are to appear in court or until they are released on bond. For someone to pay the bail so that the defendant can be released while awaiting trial on criminal charges, the agent or bail company might require collateral in the form of valuable property securities, or a statement of creditworthiness.
You have agreed to gain freedom through a piece of paper and you are most likely thinking “what did I really just agree to?” Bail contracts contain certain words or phrases that will define “indemnitor or cosigner” referring to the person paying the bond. “Company” is the bail bond company. “Surety” is insurance company that backs the bail bond agent or bondsman. In a contract, most people agree to pay a non-refundable amount that is stated, which is 10% of the bail amount that the judge set. This is usually the first term both parties agree to. A client may be required to pay for phone calls, travel expenses, bounty hunter expenses, attorney fees, court costs and the full amount of the bond if the defendant does not appear for court dates. Clients should read all agreements thoroughly and ask questions until all items and obligations are understood. Doing so will make a positive experience for those that have come across this situation.
To avoid conflict with your bond contract you should remember you have responsibilities upon signing. Making sure the defendant attends every date is the biggest thing to remember. They are expected to go to their court date and as the cosigner, you are expected to ensure they make all the court dates. Paying additional fees if the defendant misses a court date for any reason will be expected. If the defendant misses their court date, you are responsible for paying those fees.
In other cases, if your defendant disappears you are responsible to pay the entirety of the bail. This simply means if your defendant goes missing, you are responsible for paying the whole amount of bail that was originally set by the court. If collateral was used instead of money, that collateral-real estate, title to a vehicle, etc.-will be used and not returned. As you sign a bail bond contract, you are responsible for it all. You can’t change your mind half way through when something goes wrong. “I am taking the responsibility to make sure the defendant is at court and if they miss their court date, I know I have to pay for the entire bail on my own.” Understanding these responsibilities is very important and needs to be remembered even when under a stressful situation.