Getting arrested and potentially having to spend time in jail is an overwhelming and even confusing situation. Not only are you facing legal challenges, but there are also potentially significant costs, a potential criminal record, and time away from family and work if you are unable to get out of jail. To make the situation easier to manage and less stressful, it’s essential that you are able to post bail so you can go about your life while also navigating the court process.
However, posting bail can oftentimes be stressful as well, ensuring you find a reputable bail bond company and bail bondsman. If you are facing this situation for the first time, the team at Smith Bail Bonds can help. Serving the southeast Missouri areas, we are passionate about helping people manage this difficult situation with ease. We also understand the importance of working with the right company. Before you hire just anyone, here are a few questions to ask a potential bail bondsman.
What Percentage Do Your Charge?
Bail bond companies typically charge a certain percentage of the total bail amount, but they may simply charge a flat fee. In most states, the minimum charge is 10% of the bail amount and the maximum is 20%, but the charge can vary in each state as well as from company to company. If your bail amount is $10,000, there may be a significant difference in the amount you owe, which can have a significant impact on your finances. And no one wants to struggle with finances when they’re also facing court costs and legal fees.
As you’re looking for a bail bondsman, be wary of companies that offer less than 10% or charge more than 20%, as they may be operating their business illegally or simply don’t offer quality, reliable, and experienced services.
How Fast is the Process?
It’s understandable that when you or a loved one is sitting in jail that you want to get them out as quickly as possible. However, it’s never up to the bail bondsman to actually facilitate the timing of the release from jail. A judge needs to set a bail amount before the bail bondsman can begin their part of the process. When the judge sets bail depends on when the arrest occurred, when a case was opened, and how busy the court’s schedule is at the time.
If a potential bondsman gives you an exact timeframe for when someone is released from jail, they may simply be trying to close the deal. However, an experienced company that has been working with Missouri jails and court systems may have a general idea of what typical processing times are.
Are You Licensed?
Bail bond companies are required to be licensed by the Missouri Department of Insurance in order to provide professional, legal services. There are, however, people who try to perform services without a license and who may simply take your money without providing any real service. Contrary to bail bond myths, the industry is highly regulated and companies need to comply with all laws and regulations. If a potential company cannot produce a license, or you can’t find documentation at your state’s licensing agency, find another company.
What Form of Payment Do You Accept?
In a large majority of cases, an arrest and the need to post bail occurs unexpectedly, making it challenging for many to get the necessary finances in order. While it is not possible to directly post bail through the jail with a credit card, many bail bond companies do take credit card payments for the associated bail fee. However, it is essential that you ask what form of payments are accepted right away so you can better prepare for any costs. If the fee is outside of your current financial means, some companies can provide payment plans, but again, be sure to ask what options are available at the very beginning.
Do You Require a Co-Signer?
Depending on your credit rating, criminal history, or if you are considered a flight risk, the bail company may require that you have a co-signer. A co-signer will provide the bail bondsman with additional security in the event that you do not appear at your court dates and no one can get a hold of you. If this is your first arrest and the first time you are posting bail, there is a smaller chance of the bail bondsman requiring a co-signer.
Working with the right bail bondsman and company can make the overall process much less stressful. Your bail bondsman can also help guide you through the process to ensure that you understand your responsibilities.
If you or a loved one is in need of a reputable bond company, contact Smith Bail Bonds in southeast Missouri today. We’re here to help.