The U.S. bail bonds services industry exceeds $2 billion in revenue annually and employs nearly 25,000 people. If you are arrested and need help posting bail, you may have to tap into these services. Find out how the bail bonds system works, its benefits, and its risks so you can make informed decisions if the time comes.
The Amount of Your Bail
Once law enforcement officers arrest you and book you into jail, the court sets your bail. This is a dollar amount that you must pay to be released pending your court hearing. The judge considers a number of factors in determining bail:
- The severity of the criminal charges; bail for a felony is higher than for a misdemeanor.
- The likelihood that you will continue to break the law if you are released from jail.
- The risk that you will abscond if released before trial.
Above all, the judge must set your bail high enough so that it provides you with the incentive to appear at your court hearing. If you are facing serious criminal charges and have a history of arrests, you could be looking at a bail amount that exceeds your resources. When that happens, one alternative is to work with a bail bond company.
Working With a Bail Bondsperson
If you don’t have the cash available to post your bail, a New Jersey bail bond company may agree to act as a guarantor. It provides the court with a written promise to pay your bail in full should you fail to appear at scheduled hearings.
Typically, the bondsman requires 10% of your total bail upfront from you, a friend, or a family member. If you are facing federal charges, the company may take 15% instead. This is the price you pay for being released from custody, and it is non-refundable.
Also, you must provide collateral equal to the balance of your bail, such as your personal property. You will not have to sign over those assets to obtain a bail bond, but if you fail to appear for court and thus forfeit your bail, the bond company can take them as compensation for paying the court the balance that you owe.
For example, if the judge sets your bail at $10,000, your bail bond fee would be $1,000. You would need to have sufficient collateral for the remaining amount of $9,000. This could be your car, some real estate, or another asset of the same value. You will sign paperwork that acknowledges your non-refundable fee and your obligation to turn over your collateral if you do not show up for pre-trial court dates and your trial.
Your ability to get a bail bond is by no means a given. The bail bond business is high-risk, and companies strive to avoid losses. A few of the factors that may prevent you from bonding out of jail include:
- A history of absconding
- A criminal record
- An inability to pay the bond or provide collateral
- Having no permanent address
- Having no ties to the community
- The nature of the charges against you
What Happens Next?
After you have signed your paperwork and paid your fee, the bondsman will complete and present the necessary forms to get you released from jail. It is your responsibility to appear for court dates until your case reaches resolution. Your Morristown criminal defense lawyer will help you through the next steps of the legal process.
If you do not comply with the law and choose to skip bail instead, beware. Bail bond companies work hard to minimize their financial risk, and they work just as hard to collect on bad debts. If you break your bail contract, expect to be pursued for the balance of the bail, including forfeiture of your collateral.
Morristown Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help
When you are facing criminal charges in New Jersey, get in touch with the Law Offices of Gregg A. Wisotsky. We have the legal knowledge and experience you need to navigate the court system and the bail bond process as well. Call us today at 973-898-0161 to get started.