The Dos and Don’ts of Hiring a Bail Bondsman

Do: Look for a Bail Agency with Experience. When it comes to agencies, experience matters. An experienced bail agent is best suited to handle your case efficiently and compassionately. Quite simply, they have likely seen every type of case over the years and can react to any challenges that might occur. Along with the overall experience of the agency, you’ll want to ask about the experience of the individual bondsman — especially within the local area.

Don’t: Hire a Bondsman Without Asking Questions. Chances are that you’ve never had to arrange for a bond before, and you are probably under a lot of stress. It’s important to ask as many questions as possible before reaching an agreement with a bondsman. Take the time to learn as much as you can about how the bail process works and about the terms of your agreement with your agent before you make any decisions.

Do: Understand How Bail Agencies Work. Not everyone understands how the financing of bail works. When you work with an agent, they guarantee the bond. In exchange, you pay a non-refundable fee upfront — usually 10 percent of the total cost of the bond. If the person who has been arrested meets their obligations, you pay nothing else; if they skip bail, you may be responsible for the full amount of the bond.

Don’t: Get Pressured Into a Payment Plan You Don’t Like. Having to come up with money to cover 24 hr bail bonds is an unexpected expense and you may not have the money needed to fully cover the upfront costs. Many bail agencies will offer financing options and payment plans to help offset the costs. While this can help you out of a tight spot, make sure you are comfortable with the plans being offered and don’t feel pressured into accepting financing.

Do: Research the Bail Bond Agency. Working with a licensed bail agency is a must if you want to make sure that your bail bond will be handled in an ethical and professional manner. In California, bail bond services providers are required to be licensed by the state’s Department of Insurance. If the agency you are planning to work with isn’t licensed, you don’t want to do business with them. You’ll also want to check to see their standing with the Better Business Bureau.

Don’t: Be Suckered By False Promises. Many bail agencies will say anything in an attempt to do win your business. For example, they might claim that they can help to get people out of jail quicker than anyone else and expedite the bail bonds process. And while it’s true that an experienced bondsman can take all of the right steps to get a person’s release completed as quickly as possible, the reality is that no bondsman can make the court system move faster — a person is only available to be released from prison after their bail has been set by the court.

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