Most people only hear about bail bonds from watching television, so it's not surprising there are a lot of misconceptions floating around about the industry. Unfortunately, believing some of those myths can lead people to make mistakes that may result in their spending an unnecessary amount of time in jail or facing other consequences. Here is the truth behind three myths about bail bonds.
Myth #1: Bail-Bond Fees Are Negotiable
Quite possibly the most common misconception about bail bonds is that the fees the bail-bond company charges are negotiable. It's understandable why many people want to believe this because those who need the help of a bail-bond company are often those who can afford it the least. According to a study conducted by Bankrate, approximately 62 percent of respondents had no emergency savings. Therefore, it's not unusual for people to approach bail bondsmen and attempt to negotiate lower fees to make a bail bond more affordable.
The problem is the fee charged by bail-bond companies is typically set by state law and based on the amount of the bond ordered by the court. For example, Nevada has set the bail fee rate at 15 percent of the bond. That means that on a $10,000 bond, a bondsman must charge $1,500. Companies can't charge more or less than the amount set by the state; otherwise, they risk being fined or losing their licenses.
This means bondspeople won't be able to lower the fee for people who don't have the cash to get out of jail (or free their loved ones). However, one area where bondspeople do have some flexibility is how the fee is paid. If a person is having trouble getting the cash to pay the fee, the company may be willing to set up a payment plan. It's best to discuss the issue with a bail-bond company in your area to see if this is a possibility.
Myth #2: The Bond Fee Is Refundable
This misconception likely came about due to confusion between paying the amount of the bail directly to the court and hiring a bail-bond company to do it. When a judge orders a defendant to post bail, the person can pay the money directly to the court. When the defendant shows up to all his or her court appointments as required, the court will refund all the bond money to the payer minus any administrative fees.
However, the same is not true of bail-bond companies. The money you pay to a bondsperson is the fee the company charges for taking care of the bail. It may be helpful to think of this as being similar to the interest you pay for borrowing money from a bank. The bond company pays the bail to get your loved one out of jail, and you pay the company its fee for the service. Though the court will refund the bond company its money when your loved one shows up to court as required, the bondsperson will not refund your money to you.
Therefore, it's essential that you plan for this when digging around your finances to come up with the money to get yourself or your loved one out of jail.
Myth #3: You Have to Be Present to Bail Someone Out
A third myth is that you have to actually go to the bond company's office to pay to have someone released from jail. That used to be true in the past. However, with the invention of the Internet and fax machines, you can bail someone from jail even if you live in another state.
Some companies even have websites where you can make the required payment online using a credit or debit card. Typically, you'll need to know the case number and where the defendant is being held, among other important information. The company may have you print out a contract and fax it back to them with your signature and a copy of your identification. The exact procedure will differ depending on the company, but the net effect is that you can get anyone out of jail regardless of where you happen to be at the time your loved one calls you for help.
For more information about these and other bail-bond myths or help getting yourself or your loved one out of jail, contact a bail-bond company in your area, such as Absolute Bail Bonds.
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