Suppose you receive a phone call from a friend asking you to bail them out of jail after their arrest. For most of us, this is an uncommon decision to make. Before you make any determinations, it is important to understand the bail process. Upon arrest in Florida, a person is processed at a local county jail. Bail is a process of posting bail or money at the jail (or court) to ensure a defendant’s return to court. It is designed to help ensure that individuals show up for subsequent court appearances. Before you post bail or assist a friend in the posting of a bond, you should be aware of several considerations.
First, it is imperative to assess the quality of your friendship. Is this a really good friend or just an acquaintance you are assisting? In your decision, you may also wish to consider the nature of the charges and the amount of the bond at issue. Further, keep in mind that being charged with a crime is a stressful experience and may provoke behaviors that could lead to the defendant’s absence in court.
The most popular way of bailing someone out of jail is with the assistance of a bail bondsman. The bondsman will issue a bond for you, which essentially guarantees the court system your friend will be present at future hearings. Generally, bail bondsmen in Florida post the bond themselves and charge a non-refundable fee (10% of the total bond). The money paid to a bail bondsman is known as bail premiums, and this amount is non-refundable. Nonetheless, there are many advantages to hiring a bail bondman to bail your friend. The bail procedures are technical matters that require vast knowledge and experience, and your bail bondsman may guarantee a smooth bailing process. There is a significant amount of paperwork that comes with the bail process, and your bondsman can provide you with the expertise required to handle these documents with accuracy. Keep in mind, when using a bail bond company, it is likely they will require some basic information such as your friend’s name, date of birth, and the name of the detention center where he or she is currently being held. Furthermore, you will need to provide your credit card and driver’s license information for surety purposes. The support of a bail bondsman can go a long way to ensure that all financial and legal matters are handled properly.
Should you choose not to use a bondsman, you can post or pay the bond at the jail. An example is if the bond is set at $1,000.00, you go to jail and pay them $1,000.00 and your friend will get out of jail in a few hours. However, be cognizant of the financial risk. There is no guarantee you will receive your money back if you assist with the bail. Bail is forfeited if your friend does not appear in court. If the defendant cannot be located, you as the indemnitor will be made solely responsible for the full bail amount originally set by the court. On the contrary, if your friend abides by the rules and attends all court hearings, you will be refunded the full bond amount. Trust is a significant factor when formulating this decision, therefore you should only post bail if you are certain your friend is dependable. Also, if it is cash bail, the bail may be first applied to any fines or costs against your friend. Multiple bonds are fairly common in the state of Florida, therefore it is important to know that those arrested on multiple counts will be expected to pay each bond.
A final option could be to contact a criminal defense attorney who can review the criminal charges and the bond amount. The attorney may recommend getting the bond reduced which could save you money. Each case and judge is different, and it is impossible to have an opinion on this matter without having proper information. If it is reasonable to get the bond reduced, it can occur at a first appearance if an attorney is present who can state to the judge why the bond should be reduced. An example is if a bond is reduced from $5,000.00 to $1,000.00 and you use a bondsman, his fee would now only be $100.00 as opposed to $500.00.
Given the financial risk you take, there are also some benefits to consider when making this decision. Different types of crimes call for different solutions, and your friend may be ready to seek help for any personal or mental health issues they may have been experiencing. Jail may not be the greatest place for recovery and may easily be more damaging to their physical or mental health. Proper treatment may be the key to a more positive result. Next, if your friend is being held in confinement, it will be more of a challenge for your friend to build a case and/or defend themselves. Simply put, jail may be a hazardous place for a person to spend extra time. Although assisting your friend’s bail may be a challenge, it may be the right decision to benefit their long-term well-being.
If you have any questions, contact the Law Office of Adams & Luka now for a free consultation.