What is Collateral:

Bail collateral can be offered in place of or in addition to bail money to ensure that the person arrested will appear in court. Collateral covers the bail company’s costs of finding and returning to jail the arrested party should they fail to appear in court.

Do I Need Collateral:

Every case is different, meaning collateral may or may not be required. A bondsman will determine risk by taking into consideration the amount of the bail, the amount of time the arrested party (and possibly co-signer) have lived in the area, and the need of a payment plan. Most bondsmen require collateral at least equaling and usually exceeding the amount of the bond. 150% of the bond as collateral is a traditional number in the bail industry.

Widely Accepted Forms of Collateral:

Individual agents will accept different items as collateral so it is important to check with your bondsman before assuming you have acceptable collateral. Anything that you own and has significant resale value is usually an acceptable form of collateral. Items purchased on credit are generally not accepted as collateral.

Property bonds such as land or a home are the most common form of bail collateral. If the arrested party doesn’t appear in court, the property may be foreclosed. A minimum of 150% equity is commonly required and a mortgaged house is considered good collateral up to the difference between its value and the amount still owed on the mortgage.

Cash and bank accounts can be used as collateral if some or all of the funds in an account are committed to the bondsman and in some cases a check or credit card are acceptable.

Vehicles you own can be used as collateral, but not one which you make payments on to a lender (since the lender possesses the lien.)

High value personal items such as jewelry, firearms, game systems, and electronic equipment may be used as collateral. These items are normally valued at their current resale value, not what you originally paid for them.

Usually you are able to maintain physical possession of major collateral items such as a house or car and the bondsman will hold the title. Smaller items are often placed by the bondsman in a secure location until the case is resolved with a legal responsibility to safeguard all collateral in their possession.

When Do I Get My Collateral Back?:

Whether the arrested party is found innocent, charges are dropped, a sentence is ordered, or bail is exonerated, collateral is returned upon case completion. If a premium has been was negotiated and put in place, the full amount of the collateral may not be returned to the individual. After all financial obligations have been met, bail collateral will typically be returned within five business days. Until this happens a bail bond agent can hold the bail collateral.