Let’s imagine for a moment that you’re the recipient of late-night phone call where a friend or family member tells you that they’re in jail. Awash in a flood of emotions, you’re sure to be a little bewildered and confused as to what to do next. Of course, by virtue of the fact that you were their first phone call, one of your very first emotions is sure to be the desire to help get them out of jail as quickly as possible. After all, that’s probably why they called you in the first place. They felt confident in the fact that they could count on you to help them.
Bailing Someone Out
So, feeling the pressure to come through for them and help them in any way possible, you contact a bail bondsman and arrange to pay their bond amount, which is generally 10% of the court-set bail amount. The bail bond is a binding promise that you, as the indemnitor, are paying and signing on the defendant’s behalf, stating that you will make sure that the defendant shows up in court at the scheduled date and time. So you put the cash up and sign the bond. Done, right?
Not so fast.
While most people might think that coming up with the cash is the hardest part of bailing someone out, it’s also important to know what else you, as the indemnitor, are responsible for.
Court Dates and Appearances
Once a defendant has been released in anticipation of a future court date when their case will be heard before a judge, there are generally assorted appointments and appearances that a defendant must attend in order to fulfill the obligations of their bail agreement. It is ultimately up to you, the person who bailed them out, to make sure that they attend these court-mandated appointments. If they don’t show up, believe it or not, youmight also suffer the consequences of the defendant’s absence(s).
Foot the Bill for the Defendant’s Absences
If the defendant misses mandatory court dates and appointments, it’s likely that the court will charge them fines or additional fees related to the absences. Ranging from individual fines, penalties, or assorted court costs all the way up to paying a recovery agent (bounty hunter) to bring the defendant to justice, the indemnitor’s financial responsibility is serious and not to be taken lightly.
Foot the Bill for the Defendant’s Entire Bail Amount
So let’s just say that the defendant has “skipped bail,” or not shown up for any of their appearances or court dates and you have no clue where they might be. The limit of your financial responsibility doesn’t just stop at the costs discussed in the previous paragraph. Beyond fines, penalties, assorted court costs and more, the indemnitor is also ultimately responsible for the paying the entire bail amount if the defendant is nowhere to be found. In addition, if for some reason, the indemnitor offered up collateral in lieu of cash to pay the bond amount, the indemnitor would then lose the right to the collateral, allowing the bonding company to leverage the collateral to finance the cost of bringing the defendant to justice.
Just as the law and the court system mean business, so should you when you’re called on to help bail out a loved one. Money is but a mere portion of your responsibility. Given the anxiety of the circumstance, it’s easy to pay and quickly sign all the paperwork in an effort to reduce the amount of time your loved one has to spend in jail. That’s understandable. But be careful to find a wise and experienced bonding agent who can explain it all to you in clear and certain terms. A licensed bonding agent will discuss your options with you in an effort to help you make the best decision possible — for both you and your loved one.