32 Ways on How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds: There are many steps involved in getting bailed out of jail or helping a friend or family member that may need to be bailed out.

Remember that getting bailed out of jail is an option.

Sometimes bail is set very high and choosing to bail someone out of jail carries a lot of trust and responsibility.

It is important to make sure that you fully trust that person.

Will show up to all court proceedings before choosing to bail them out of jail.

This page will answer questions about what a bail bond is, how a bail bond works, what a bail hearing is.

What happens when a defendant does not show up for court, and what a bounty hunter is.

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1. How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

Each state has its own bail bond system.

Which gives someone who has been charged with a crime the opportunity.

To get out of jail and remain out until they go to trial.

Different states provide different types of bail options.

But the main principles are the same in every system.

If you have been charged with a crime, or are considering posting bail for someone else.

Learning how different bail bond systems work can help you obtain freedom for yourself or someone close to you.

2. How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

Bail is a refundable deposit that allows the defendant to get out of jail until their court date.

The deposit is used as collateral to ensure the defendant will return to court for trial.

Or any applicable court proceedings.

Not all cases will be given the option for bail.

Options for bail are offered based on the jurisdiction, the type of crime.

And whether the court believes the defendant will attempt to go on the run.

This is often known as a flight risk.

3. How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

If the defendant shows up for court, the bail is refunded by the court.

If the defendant does not show up for court, the court keeps the deposit or collateral and a warrant is issued for an arrest.

Many defendants will want to be bailed out of jail as soon as possible to keep their jobs.

Take care of their children and prepare for their court proceedings with a clear head.

Sometimes court proceedings can take weeks or months.

And it is understandable why people would not want to put their lives on hold while awaiting court or trial.

4. How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

What is a bail bond?

A bail bond is a way for a defendant to pay the jail to get out of jail until their court date.

If the defendant cannot afford bail, they must wait in jail until their court date.

In many jurisdictions and situations, you do have the option of paying the full amount of bail yourself.

There are many offenses that have small bond amounts.

If the jail accepts credit card payments, defendants are also able to charge the amount for a fee.

5. How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

If the defendant can pay the full amount of the set bail, finding a way to pay the jail is another tricky task.

When you are taken into custody, often your personal items will be taken from you.

Large amounts of cash may be taken as evidence.

Some jail locations will not accept credit cards.

If they do, there is usually a large fee involved.

6. How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

Defendants also have the option of contacting a bail agent.

The reason many people choose to do this is because they only pay a portion of the bond upfront when using an agency.

Many times, friends or relatives of the defendant may contact a bail agent on their behalf.

If you decide to hire a bail bondsmen or agent, they will write up a contract.

To ensure that you understand that you are responsible for the defendant showing up in all court proceedings.

If the defendant does not show up, you will be responsible for the full amount of the bail.

7. How do bail bonds work?

Since arrests can happen at any time, bail bond agencies are typically open twenty-four hours a day.

Many times, payment and paperwork can be completed electronically which can help expedite the process.

The paperwork is a contract between the person posting bail.

And ensures that they fully understand that they are agreeing.

To be responsible for the defendant showing up to all court proceedings.

The paperwork will also discuss what they have put on the line (some form of collateral) .

To ensure that person shows up in court.

8. How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

The paperwork will also discuss the fees involved. When contacting a bail agent.

They will need to know the full name of the defendant.

The booking number and the charges they were brought in for.

As well as the location of the jail they are being held.

From there, the bail agent will bond the defendant out of jail.

When the bail bondsmen is at the jail, they are given the court date.

A receipt and all the paperwork involved so that the bail bondsmen has all the pertinent information.

To follow up with the case. This can take several hours depending on procedures and how busy the jail is.

9. How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

If the defendant fails to show up to any court proceedings.

It will be the responsibility of the bail agent to pay the full amount of bail to the court.

From there, the bail agent will hire a bounty hunter to track down the defendant and take them back to jail.

If the defendant fails to appear in court.

The person who took out the bail bond can lose any collateral or have additional penalties depending on their contract.

10. What is a bail hearing?

A bail hearing is where the court will set the bail amount.

The judge will examine the details of the case and the nature of the crimes.

Depending on the jurisdiction and state laws, many times there are bail schedules that are posted with the jails.

These schedules set the standard for how much bail is required depending on the crime and can often be paid directly with the jail before a bail hearing.

Jailhouse bail schedules are typically set in stone and nonnegotiable.

11. How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

At a bail hearing, judges will set the bail amount.

This is usually the first appearance after the suspect’s arrest.

Judges will typically make uniform decisions depending on the crime.

The judge will consider whether the crime was drug related.

Violent or nonviolent and the character and history of the defendant.

The judge will take into consideration whether the defendant poses a threat to society if they are released while awaiting their court date.

12. How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

While defendants do not need a lawyer to post bail.

Having a criminal defense attorney can help you at a bail hearing.

Because both the defense and the prosecutor will have an opportunity to discuss bail with the judge at the bail hearing.

A criminal defense lawyer will have the opportunity to discuss bail factors.

And in some cases can attempt to have bail lowered at a bail hearing.

13. How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

Sometimes, judges will consider releasing a defendant on their own recognizance.

This means that the defendant signs a written agreement with the court.

Stating they promise to abide by restrictions set by the court and that they will show up for their court date.

This type of bond, known as a recognizance bond, means that there are no bail fees.

This can save hundreds or thousands of dollars for the defendant.

A criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate with the judge and the prosecutor to have a recognizance bond as an option.

In certain cases, this sort of bond will not be considered.

This will depend on the type of crime, the jurisdiction.

And whether the court believes the defendant may be a flight risk.

In most cases, violent crimes, felony crimes and gang related crimes will not be considered for recognizance bonds.

14. How much is a bail bond?

Bail bond agencies will charge a fee if you use their services.

Fees vary depending on the state and some states will have maximum fees that the bail bond agencies must abide by.

Fees also vary depending on the situation involved in the arrest.

And the amount of risk that the bail bond agency takes on.

Because there is risk involved in bailing someone out of jail, bail agents also usually require collateral.

Collateral can be anything of value that the person who hires the bail agent owns.

This collateral is used to guarantee that the defendant will show up for their court date.

This fee is usually anywhere from 10-20% of the bail amount.

In California, the maximum amount is 10%.

The fee can be paid up front or on a payment plan depending on the agreement stated in the paperwork.

How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

15. Conditions will be set by the bail agent.

These conditions must be met to comply with the agreement.

This will be stated in any paperwork that is filled out when the agreement is made.

The agreement will include provisions stating that the defendant must show up for all court proceedings.

Keep in mind that bail bondsmen are not required to help you bail yourself or anyone else out of jail.

They are taking all the risk involved in the situation and they are there to help you.

But bail is an option and not a requirement.

16. What is a bounty hunter?

If a defendant has used a bail bondsmen to get bailed out of jail and they go on the run.

They are considered a fugitive and a warrant is issued for their arrest.

The bail agent is responsible for paying the full amount of the bond to the court when this happens.

The person who signed the agreement is now responsible for paying the bail agent the bond amount and/or any additional collateral as stated in the contract.

17. How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

When a defendant becomes a fugitive, there is still the issue of how they will be captured and brought to justice.

This is where the bounty hunter comes in.

A bounty hunter is a trained or registered professional that is responsible for finding.

And capturing fugitives on behalf of the bail bondsmen.

Many states have regulations for bounty hunters, and four states do not allow bounty hunting at all.

18. How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

Bounty hunters get paid a portion of the defendants total bail amount.

This portion is usually 10 – 20% of the total bail amount.

This amount is paid after the bounty hunter has successfully located, tracked and captured the fugitive.

Many bounty hunters have backgrounds in criminal justice.

Or private investigation and specialize in gathering pertinent information.

And locating and apprehending suspects.

Bounty hunters not only help keep the interest of the bail bondsmen.

But are also helping the interest of the community.

By getting criminals back into the justice system.

In some states a bail bondsmen can also be the bounty hunter.

How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

16. Learn the basic terms.

Bail is money or other property deposited with or promised to a court to persuade the judge.

To release a defendant from jail, with the understanding that the defendant will return to court for the trial.

A “bail bond” refers to the promise made by the defendant or a “surety” (someone who promises to pay for the defendant) to the court to forfeit the bail money if the defendant does not return.

A surety can be a professional bail bond agent, or a friend or family member.

17. Wait for the judge to set bail.

The purpose of setting bail is to ensure that the defendant appears at trial without necessarily having to keep the defendant in custody.

The bail amount needs to be significantly high enough so that the defendant will not simply forfeit the bail amount and disappear.

Many courts have preset bail amounts for each offense, though a judge can deviate from those guidelines for good cause.

  • For example, this Los Angeles County Felony Bail Schedule recommends bail of $50,000 for campaign violations, and $100,000 for kidnapping.
  • A judge can decide not to allow the defendant to be released on bail if the defendant is a flight risk (not likely to return to court for trial), or a danger to the community. Defendants are less likely to be considered a flight risk when they have family and community ties to the area, employment, minimal criminal history, or a record of appearing as required in the past.

How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

18. Post bail at the court or jail.

After the judge has set a bail amount during a court hearing, defendants.

And sureties can post bail with the court clerk during regular business hours, or at the jail after hours.

The court or jail will issue a receipt for the bail bond, proving that bail was posted.

19. Don’t miss your court date.

If the defendant does not return to return to court as required.

The court will schedule a forfeiture hearing and issue an arrest warrant.

The defendant will have an opportunity to explain why he or she missed the court date.

Such as a misunderstanding or unavoidable delay.

If the defendant fails to appear for the forfeiture hearing or does not have a valid excuse.

The court will keep the bond amount.

20. Consider signing with a professional bail agent.

Bail agents, sometimes called bail bondsmen, act as sureties and post bail on behalf of defendants.

A bail agent makes a profit by charging the defendant a non-refundable fee (usually 10% of the bail amount).

If the defendant fails to appear in court, the bail agent forfeits the bond amount.

The agent is also authorized to arrest the defendant for the purposes of bringing him or her to court.

In some states, the agent can hire a bounty hunter to apprehend the defendant. 

The agent may also bring a civil suit against the defendant.

Or anyone else obligated under the bail agent’s contract to recover the bail money the agent paid to the court.

How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

21. Post a cash bond.

With a cash bond, the judge requires that the defendant or a surety deposit the entire bail amount in cash.

The money is held until the case is concluded, and is refunded to the person who posted it.

If the defendant posts his or her own cash bond, the court may deduct any fines and costs before returning the money.

    • Cash bonds requiring that the entire bail amount be posted up front are more stringent than percentage bonds, which only require a percentage of the bail amount. The full amount is typically required where the defendant is a flight risk, has outstanding unpaid fines, or has failed to return to court before. Percentage bonds are common in states where professional bail agents cannot operate.

22. Post a percentage bond.

With a percentage bond, the judge sets a bail amount.

Then requires that the defendant or surety deposit only a percentage (typically 10%) of the total bail amount up front, and agrees to pay the remainder if the defendant fails to appear in court.

23. Get an immigration bond.

Immigration bonds operate through federal law, rather than state law.

A surety may be able to post a bond for a defendant who is an undocumented immigrant detained within the States. If the defendant misses his or her court date, the surety has the opportunity to deliver the defendant to court to regain a percentage of the bond. If the defendant is returned within 10 days of the missed court date, the surety can recover 66.67% of the bond. 50% is returned within 20 days, and 30% is returned within 30 days. After 30 days, the surety cannot recover any percentage of the bond.

How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

24. Post a property bond.

In some jurisdictions, the defendant or surety can post bail by pledging real property (such as a house) worth at least the value of the bail amount.

If the defendant fails to appear, the court can levy or foreclose on the property.

If the property has multiple owners on title, all owners must sign the bail bond.

The court may also require proof of ownership and proof of the value of the property.

Such as an appraisal by a local real estate agent.

How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

25. Get “released on own recognizance” (ROR).

For an ROR, the judge can release the defendant upon the condition.

That the defendant continue to appear in court. The judge may also impose other conditions.

Such as requiring the defendant to stay in the local geographic area or contact the court regularly to check in.

26. Sign an unsecured appearance bond.

With an unsecured appearance bond, the defendant is released upon his or her promise to appear in court.

The defendant can be ordered to pay a specific sum of money to the court if he or she fails to appear.

27. Get a citation release.

For some minor offenses, an arresting officer will issue a citation to an arrested person which requires him or her to appear in court. 

The arrested person is not taken into custody, and no bail amount is collected.

Failing to appear can result in additional fines, charges, and an arrest warrant.

28. Agree to other conditions.

A judge can impose conditions in addition to bail arrangement.

Such as giving a DNA sample, phone or in-person check-ins, drug testing, court date reminders, etc.

How to Get the Best from Bail Bonds

29. Make your first appearance in court.

In federal court, your first court appearance will be with a federal magistrate who will inform you of the charges against you and who will decide if you should be released pending trial.

Prior to your first hearing, a Pretrial Services Officer will speak with you and as many of your family members as possible. 

Their job is to gather information about your background and personal circumstances and file a report to the court.

The report will make recommendations to the judge and prosecutor about whether you should be released pending trial and if so, if any conditions should be attached to your release.

30. Know how bail is decided.

Unlike state court, federal courts do not have fixed bail amounts.

In federal court, the magistrate will release you with conditions sufficient to ensure you continue to come to court when required.

  • Bail bondsmen are rarely used in federal court, and for low income defendants, there is usually no cash component to your federal bail.
  • In federal court, you are basically entering into a contract between yourself, any co-signers, and the government. If you do not show up, you will have breached the contract and consequences will follow.
    • Your co-signer is a financially stable and trustworthy individual who will become responsible for your release. If you do not show up for court, your co-signer may become financially responsible for your failure to appear.

31. Understand the types of conditions often imposed.

Each case will differ and the types of conditions that are placed on your release will depend on the seriousness of the crime you are alleged to have committed, your criminal history, your ties to the community, and your financial circumstances. In general the following types of conditions are common:

    • Pretrial supervision;
    • Drug testing;
    • Mental health evaluations;
    • Travel restrictions;
    • Surrender of travel documents (e.g., passports);
    • Electronic monitoring; and
    • Curfews.

32. Know what happens if you violate the conditions of you pretrial release.

If you fail to appear at a required hearing, the court may rescind your bail.

And may issue a warrant for your arrest.  

At that point, federal marshals will be responsible for finding and returning you to jail.


How bail works and the amount the bail is set as is determined by the court in your particular state.

Some states have set lists which the judge works from to determine the correct bail amount for the type of crime committed.

Other states will allow the judge to set the amount as per the predicted flight risk of the accused and a combination of other factors.

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