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Your Responsibilities When Bailing Someone Out Of Jail With A Bail Bond

If you've just received a request to bail a friend or loved one out of jail, you probably have a lot of questions. If you don't have enough cash to pay the court, getting a bail bond is a good solution. But what are your responsibilities if you go that route? Before deciding on the best course, here's what will happen when using bail bonds.

Become the indemnitor

Think of a bail bond as a form of collateral or an insurance policy that assures the court the defendant will return for their court date. If the defendant fails to show up, the courts will be allowed to keep the bail money that was paid.

When you sign a bond agreement, you become the indemnitor—the person who assumes financial responsibility for that bond.

Ensure the defendant appears

As the indemnitor, you have a duty to make sure the person you bailed out shows up for their court dates. The contract that exists makes you responsible for the defendant until the case is resolved. How you do this is up to you. You may offer to provide transportation and stay with the person at the courthouse. Or you might have a trusting relationship and know that they will be responsible enough to show up.

Pay for any extras

Bail bond agents are allowed to charge a premium for bail bonds, and they're sort of like a down payment. A premium is a percentage of the bail amount, and most states have a maximum amount they're allowed to charge. For example, in Nevada the bail premium can't be greater than 15% of the bail amount or $50, whichever is greater. You will be responsible for paying the premium, and it's usually non-refundable.

If the defendant fails to show for their court date, it's in your best interest to find out where they are. This is because a breech warrant will be issued for their arrest, and if you know their location, you won't have to be financially responsible for a recovery agent.

If they're in hiding, a fugitive recovery agent will sometimes be employed to find them, and as the indemnitor, you'll be responsible for paying the costs associated with hiring the agent. If the defendant isn't found, the indemnitor is additionally responsible for paying the bail amount to the court.

Fortunately, most people do show up for their court dates, so posting a bail bond for a loved one isn't all that risky. If you're not sure what to do, contact your local bail bondsman with any questions you have.