You're busy going about your day when a relative calls from the booking office of a nearby prison asking you to post their bail. Your stomach churns when he tells you the amount--$10,000. He certainly doesn't have that kind of money, and neither do you. He quickly reminds you that you can contact a bail agent and purchase a bail bond. You contemplate this option for a minute. Is it really a wise decision? Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before buying bail bonds for a friend or relative.
1. Can my friend or relative afford to pay his own bail? For most minor crimes, bail will be set at $1,000 or less. This makes it possible for many people to return to work and other obligations as they await trial. If your friend or relative can afford to pay his own bail, he should. The full amount of bail will be returned to him as soon as his trials and proceedings are complete. When the accused uses his own money to pay for bail, he is more motivated to show up for court dates and ensure that things are resolved.
2. Am I willing to cover the bond fee? In order for you to purchase a bail bond for your friend or relative, you'll need to pay a bond fee or premium. This amount is set by the state in which you live and is not refundable. For bail amounts $1,000 or less, you should expect to pay around $100. For bail amounts over $1,000, you'll probably pay a percentage of the total bail amount--somewhere around 10-15%. Contact a bail agent to find out what your fees will be and decide whether or not you can afford them.
3. Am I willing to put up collateral if it is needed? For larger bail bonds, you may be asked to sign an Indemnity Agreement or Promissory Note showing that you are financially responsible for the bond. If your friend or relative fails to show up for court and the bond agent is required to pay the full amount of the bond, you'll lose whatever collateral you agreed to in the note. This collateral may have been cash, a title to a car or other valuable item, or even your Mortgage Agreement. Before hiring a bond agent, consider the collateral requirement and the likelihood that your friend or relative will meet his court obligations.
4. Considering my friend's history, will posting bail be the best thing for him? Some people make honest mistakes, and it's best for them to get back to their family and work obligations as soon as possible. If this is your friend's first time in jail, or if you believe he was wrongly accused, posting bail is probably the best decision. However, if your friend has a track record of repeated offenses and no family or work obligations, or if you believe he will not show up for court dates, it's best to let your friend experience the consequences of his own actions.
5. Are there important events coming up in my friend's life? After they have been booked, accused persons may have to wait weeks before a court date. This could mean missing important events such as weddings, births, graduations, school or work obligations, birthdays, or holidays. Purchasing a bail bond for a friend or relative can be an affordable way of helping him or her be present for these important events.
It can be very difficult to decide whether or not to purchase bail bonds from places like All Star Bail Bonds for a friend or relative. On one hand, you love this person and don't want to see him behind bars. On the other hand, you want him to feel the full consequences of his actions. If you are faced with this decision, ask yourself these 5 questions and then make the decision that feels right for you.
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