If you have a friend or family member who has been arrested and needs to be "bailed out" of jail or you just want to be prepared in case that time ever comes, then it is important to understand how bail bonds work. Typically, when bail set for a defendant by the court is relatively low, a bail bonds company (like Howlnout Bail Bonds) will simply require that you pay them a small percentage of the total bond before they pay the full bond that will get your loved one out of jail until their next court date.
However, if the bail is a large sum of money, then most bail bonds companies will require that the bond be secured with an item of value, called collateral, before they will post the full bond that will release your loved one. Read on to learn what many bail bondsman will accept as bail collateral and how you can avoid losing the item included in the collateral agreement if your loved one ends up missing their court date.
Bail Bond Collateral: What Do Bail Bondsman Accept?
Since collateral is usually not required to secure a small bail bond (although it may be required in some circumstances, such as when a defendant has a history of not showing up for court), bail collateral must typically be a relatively valuable item.
While the most common item posted as bail bond collateral is the deed to a home, other high-value items are also accepted by most bail bonds agencies as long as the agency is relatively certain that, if the bail collateral does end up having to be forfeited if the defendant does not show up to court, they can sell it relatively quickly and easily to recoup the funds they paid to the court.
Items that bail bondsman also frequently take as bail collateral include high-value jewelry, especially if it is made of gold and/or features a diamond or other expensive precious stone; deeds or titles to high-value automobiles and boats; high-value, like-new electronics; and, if legal in your state, valuable firearms.
How to Avoid Losing Your Collateral If Your Loved One Misses Their Court Date
While you should never sign a bail collateral agreement for a friend or loved one you don't trust to show up on court day, even typically trustworthy people can fear "the unknown" in court and end up missing a hearing. It is important to know that if this does happen, you don't immediately lose your collateral. However, your bail bond agreement will enter "default" status, and will remain this way until your loved one is in the possession of law enforcement.
If your loved one remains "at large" and evades law enforcement for 90 days, then you will lose the possession you posted as bail collateral.
The first thing you should do if you find out your loved one did not show up for court is contact them and urge them to turn themselves into the police promptly before you lose ownership of the valuable possession you posted as bail collateral. This can help remind them that they are not just harming themselves by not showing up for court, but also harming someone who trusted them to do the right thing on court day.
Another option is to assist the local police in locating your loved one after a bench warrant is issued for their arrest; a bench warrant is typically issued any time a person missing a court hearing that pertains to a criminal case.
If you and local law enforcement both fail to locate your loved one, then you can ask the bail bonds company if it is legal in your state for you to hire a bounty hunter, also known as a fugitive recovery agent, to find your loved one. While the fugitive recovery service will charge a fee, it will likely be much less than the value of the bail collateral you posted that you could lose if your loved one is not located.
If your loved one is in jail and needs to be bailed out or you just want to be prepared in case that time every comes, then it is important to understand how bail bonds work. Remember that bail collateral is often needed when bail is set at a high dollar amount, but you will get it back if your loved on shows up on their court date or is apprehended within the 90 days following the date.