So you have a bill for a bail amount that you need to pay to get your family member, loved one or friend out of jail. How do you pay for it? You have two routes you can go from this point: hire a bail bondsman and pay the 10% fee and possibly put up collateral to cover the full amount of bail or pay the court the full bail amount.
Paying a Bail Bondsman
If you don’t have the cash available to pay the full bail amount to the court, then you’ll need to pay a bail bondsman. Most bail bond agents accept cash, credit cards; some offer payment plans or financing options. There are even cases of Bitcoin being accepted as payment after a judge required it. A non-refundable fee of 10% is usually required, but additional collateral like a car, house, or even jewelry is often required to cover the full cost of the bail amount if the defendant misses the court date.
In Texas, defendants also have the option of securing an attorney who can post their bond. Like a bail agent, an attorney bond requires a 10% non-refundable fee; however, that fee can often be applied directly to the cost of legal representation.
Paying the bail amount to the court
You can also post bail directly with the court. If the defendant attends all of his hearings and court appearances, the court will return the money in full. If the defendant fails to appear, the bail amount can be forfeited, plus any fees the court requires. Courts typically accept:
- Credit Cards (some courts may not accept all major credit card types)
Some will accept:
- Money Orders
- Personal Checks (determined by county and not common)
While many courts require the full payment to release the arrested person, some courts will allow you to pay 10% of the bail plus pledge collateral to secure the release of the defendant. Unlike working with a bondsman, the 10% fee can be returned when the defendant appears in court for all dates required. This is only available in some states and counties. The defendant will also need to qualify for the program and the requirements vary per court.
Taking out a Personal Loan
If court-financed bail is not an option, and you don’t want to work with a bondsman, you can pursue a personal loan as a financing option. You may need to make a down payment with the bank or credit union to secure the loan and have to pay interest over the lifetime of the loan. In some cases, it may be an option worth pursuing, especially if the 10% fee required by the bondsman is out of financial reach. Since you can get the bail money refunded, you can use that to pay off the loan assuming the arrested person attends the court dates. The cost of securing a loan may not be very much lower than the cost of engaging the services of a bail agent to provide a bail bond.
The process can be trying and overwhelming, especially if the arrested person is a loved one, but there are a few options you can pursue when posting bail. Weigh the pros and cons of working with the court or a bondsman based on the amount of bail and what you can afford to pay to find the route that works