Bail bond services let you post bail for a friend or family member who has been arrested. In most cases, you are the best person to judge whether or not the individual you post bond for will appear in court. Sometimes, however, you may find yourself in a difficult position where helping out a loved one could mean losing money or assets. Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself.
Talk To Your Bail Bondsman
Your bail bondsman has a lot to lose if your loved one doesn't appear in court. This means the bail bond service can be your ally in protecting your investment on a bail surety bond. If the person you bailed out discusses skipping a court date or you have other evidence to suggest that he or she won't show, contact the bail bondsman as soon as possible. Together, you may be able to come up with a plan to ensure that the defendant shows up to the court date.
Ask About A Grace Period
Many jurisdictions have a brief window that lets a defendant show up after a court date without forfeiting bond. Work with the defendant's lawyer and the bail bond service to determine how much time you have to compel the accused to appear before a judge. If you do this within the grace period, you can prevent losing your down payment and any collateral you put up to guarantee the bond.
Choose Not To Put Up Bail Money
This is a difficult decision, but if you feel that a loved one has no intention of appearing for a court date, do not post bail. You may know that he or she has already skipped bail in the past, or you may notice behaviors that make a court appearance unlikely. According to the National Council of State Legislatures, defendants who have a job, ties to community or family, and who aren't abusing drugs or alcohol have a higher likelihood of appearing for a court hearing. You can use this criteria to help guide your decision, or you can talk to a bail bondsman about a risk assessment before making the decision to post bond.
Have The Defendant Released Into Your Custody
If the defendant is living with you, it may be easier to ensure he or she appears at court. You can also help your loved one deal with the stress of the arrest and help to smooth things over with other family members. Be safe and careful when selecting this option; you may want to think twice if the person is accused of a violent crime. Weigh the nature of the alleged criminal activity with how much you stand to lose. In the end, your safety is worth more than any money you might lose if the bond is forfeited.
Being asked to post bond puts you in a tricky situation. Knowing what to do to protect your assets while helping out a loved one can help you make the right decision and help you to keep the money and collateral you put down for the defendant's release. For assistance, talk to a professional like Alda Pauline's Bail Bonds.