Being arrested is enough of a traumatic experience, especially if you’re a first-time offender. But realizing you cannot afford bail is all-the-more stressful. Whether it’s you or a loved one that needs financial assistance, this is where a bail bonds agent can offer a quick and effective solution.
Essentially, bail allows you to walk away or even avoid time spent in a jail cell until your next court appearance. It also allows you to get your legal affairs in order for the best possible trial outcome.
But before you sign into a contract with a bail bonds agent, here’s what you should run by them, first.
What to Ask Your Bail Bond Agent Before Signing the Dotted Line
What exactly does a bail bonds agent do? When you sign into a contract with a bail bonds office, they assume the risk of having to pay your entire bail fee if you do not make it to your next court date.
Essentially, a bail bonds agent allows you to pay only a small fraction of the bail amount. When your court case is concluded, the bail bond dissolves and the agent keeps a percentage of the overall cash fee.
But remember, you shouldn’t sign into any old contract, with any old bail bondsman. You should have a good idea of what to expect by asking the following questions:
1. How Quickly Can You Secure Release?
Naturally, the first thing you’ll want to know is how soon you or a loved one can be released from jail after arrest. This depends on a number of factors and may differ from one state to the next. But you must find out whether the bail bond agent can secure a release time before the next court hearing.
Bear in mind that the expected turn-around time for jail release should no longer than a day. However, this can vary depending on the law enforcement process.
2. What Is Your Bail Bond Percentage?
As mentioned, a bail bond company will charge a certain percentage of your bail amount in order to secure a release from jail. Most reputable and reliable bail bond companies will not charge more than 15%.
Be wary of bail bond agents that push deals on you and discounted percentages. They could be overselling their product and not completely reputable. They may be cutting corners to save on costs, and in the end, this will only work against you and your case.
3. Is Your Company Listed?
All bail bonds businesses that are 100 percent reliable will be listed on the Better Business Bureau (BBB). You want to ask your bail bond agent if they are listed with the BBB before you proceed. This is a great way to ensure the business is legitimate and has a good business history.
The BBB exists to protect your rights as a consumer. If your bail bond agent and their company is not listed with them, you may want to look at other options.
4. Is Your Bail Bonds Business Licensed?
An important factor to consider is whether the company is licensed. This may seem like an obvious thing to ask, but even the most legitimate-looking businesses may be operating without a license.
If want to make double sure, you can visit your state’s local department of Insurance. Ask for proof of their license and then only proceed with signing the contract once you are 100 perfect sure the business is legit.
5. Does Your Business Offer Warrant Services?
Warrant check services are a great way to avoid actually spending time in jail. Ask your bail bond agent if this is a service they offer so that you can avoid having to spend time behind bars.
The service includes an investigation into whether there are active warrants for your arrest against your name. By having this knowledge, your bail bond agent can prepare bail for you, without you having to be arrested and spend time in jail.
If you do have an active warrant against your name and bail can be pre-organized, you’ll then need to turn yourself in to the police.
6. What Method of Payment Do You Accept?
You’ll need to carefully consider the preferred method of payment that a bail bond company accepts. Some of them only accept cash, which could be a struggle for you to find on short notice.
Be sure to ask if your bail bond agent is willing to accept credit card, too, or some other payment plan. Most bail bond companies offer options for payment plans to help minimize your financial stress.
7. Is a Co-Signer or Collateral Necessary?
In some cases, a co-signer for your bail bond, as well as collateral are necessary to secure your bond payment. In other cases, you may only need one of these. Make sure to ask your bail bond agent what they require before you sign into a contract.
Why is a co-signer or collateral necessary? It provides extra insurance in case you miss your court date and the bail amount is forfeited. A co-signer also gives your bail bond agent a reliable lead if they need to track you down.
8. Are You Willing to Help Me Understand the Process?
What happens if you are unsure of how the process works and what the fees cover? Is the bail bond agent willing to break down the process for you so that you can understand it better?
Ultimately, a bail bond agent should know that your knowledge of their industry is most likely limited. They should be willing to offer us as much information as possible and be 100 percent transparent about how the process works.
By understanding the process it helps both you and the bail bond agent. It allows you to manage your expectations, which means everything can run smoothly, without disappointment.
Find Expert Coverage With Raleigh Bail Bonds, LLC
If you have a loved one that needs financial assistance in the form of a bail bonds agent, our business is your local go-to in the region of Raleigh, NC.
We understand how daunting and confusing the bail process can be. You can rely on us as a steadfast form of support in order to secure the timely release of your loved one. Learn more about our bail bonds payment plans today.