Getting awarded bail is always a relief as paying up allows you to stay out of jail until your next court date. However, the real headache for most people is coming up with the entire bail bond amount. A bail bondsman will assume the risk of paying this sum if you fail to show up for court once you sign a contract and pay for the service.
As eager as you may be to secure your release from jail, you want to ensure you're working with the right bail bonds company. Here is a checklist to make an informed decision.
1. Proof of Licensing
The law requires that bail bond companies be licensed to operate legally. A legitimate bondsman will readily provide you with proof of licensing. You can confirm their status with the local department of insurance in your state.
Hiring a licensed bail bond company will give you peace of mind. This is because licensing proves that the company has met the stringent legal requirements.
2. Guidelines on Bond Amounts
Most bondsmen companies have minimum and maximum amounts they can issue for clients, and these limits vary by company. Some bail bond companies don't handle bond amounts below a certain amount as it may not be profitable. Similarly, smaller companies may not have the resources to handle large amounts.
You want to hire a bondsman that can actually post your bail amount. Ask about limits, if any, and see whether your bail bond amount falls within the company's limits.
3. Service Charges and Payment Options
Once you have established that the company can issue your bail, the next thing you'll want to know is how much the service will cost you. Check to ensure that whatever the bail bond percentage the company quotes fall within the acceptable range in your area, per the state-prescribed fees and market averages.
Similarly, find out what payment options the bondsman offers. Can you pay cash, write a check or use your credit card? It can be inconvenient if the bondsman does not accept your preferred payment method. Also, find out if the bail bonds company offers financing options, which will be quite a relief if you don't have the total amount.
Take the time to conduct due diligence and ask the right questions before signing a contract with a bail bondsman. An uninformed decision may come with so much hassle that it will undoubtedly worsen an already stressful situation.