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What is a bail bond forfeiture?

“Forfeiture” is the legal word used to describe what happens to a bail bond when the defendant who is free on bail has missed a court date. A bail bond forfeiture doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the world… Not at all! In fact, most people who miss court do so for simple and understandable reasons…

People forget, they oversleep, they go to the wrong place… Cars breakdown, people get stuck in traffic, people get sick… All of these represent some of the reasons why a person might miss a courtdate.

Of course, there is really no “good” excuse for missing court! But, in situations like those described above, a bail agent can generally correct the problem of the forfeiture by humbly asking the court to remove the forfeiture and reinstate the bail bond that was forfeited.

Remember: courts and judges require our respect… as long as we are quick to correct a simple oversight or error, we can generally count on the judges and the courts to be forgiving… at least the first time that it happens.

If someone who is free on bail ha

Bail Bonds for Beginners

What Should I Know Before I Contact A Bail Agent?

There is certain information that a bail agent will need in order to help you:

  • Where is the person in custody? (Make sure that you ask the person in custody where they are located including the city, state, and the name of jail).
  • What is the full name and booking number of person in jail? The bail agent will need this information in order to contact the jail. The bail agent can get the booking number for you if you forgot or if it was not available.
  • How much is the bail? The bail agent will get this information when they contact the jail if you do not have it. With the bail amount, the bail bondsman can tell you the amount it will cost to post a bond and requirements to get the person out of jail.

How Do I Get A Bail Bond?

There are four ways in which a person may be released from custody.

  1. You can use a bondsman.
  2. You can post cash for the full amount of the bond with the court or jail.
  3. You can use real property (such as a home or a lot) with the court.
  4. And lastly the judge can decide to let the defendant go on their own recognizance.

Do I Get My Money Back After The Case Is Over?

There are a few exceptions to this but you do not get your premium back that you paid to the bonding office. This fee is what allowed the defendant to get out of jail and is fully earned once the defendant is out of custody. For example if the defendant gets rearrested a week later you get no portion nor a refund of any money. If the bondsman fails to live up to his end of the contract then and only then you may be entitled to a refund of some kind.

What If I Think The Defendant Is Not Going To Show Up For Court After I Have Posted The Bond?

There are remedies that can be done here as well, contact the bondsmen as soon as possible so that they can discuss your option in full detail with you. You can read more about what to do when a person fails to show up for their court appearance.

Can The Defendant Leave The State Or The Country While On Bond?

You will have to get permission from the bonding office in writing before attempting to do so. If the court has given you direct instructions not to leave the state or country you must then get permission from the bail agent and the court before leaving. Otherwise you are subject to arrest.

Can A Bail Agent Discount The Fees On The Premium?

The rate that you pay a bail agent depends on the state’s statutes and regulations. For example, in some states, there are companies that can legally charge 8%, while the allowable premium is set at 10% for others. If a company that agrees to discount their fee, they may lose their license. Some companies try and lead you into believing that you will receive a discount but in the end actually charge you the whole amount. Always ask to see a rate chart if you feel that you are being wrongly charged. If you are interested in the allowable bail bonds premiums, you can visit our bail cost page.

Are Some Bondsmen Less Expensive Than Others?

Like discounts, the general costs in your area depend on the locale’s statutes and regulations. Bonding agents are generally licensed and regulated by the state. The guiding principle is that the premium rates are not to be “excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory.” If you are interested in the cheapest bail bonds in your area, you can visit here to find out what the rates that allowed by law in your area.

What Do Bondsmen Accept As Collateral?

Each bonding office will have their own standards but for the most part you can expect them to accept various forms of bail collateral. Some example of collateral include:

  • Real estate
  • Cars
  • Credit cards
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Jewelry
  • Personal credit
  • Bank accounts

What Happens If The Defendant Gets Re-Arrested While Out On Bond?

Once the defendant is back in custody the bond can be surrendered and your liability will be terminated. There are a few problems here: if you decided to surrender the bond you will lose the premium that was paid, and if you decided to get the defendant out on bond again, you will now have to post two new bonds and pay the premium on both bonds again.

How Did The Bail Bond System Get Started?

The bail bond system arises out of common law. The posting money or property in exchange for temporary release pending a trial dates back to 13th century England. The modern commercial practice of bail bonds has continued to evolve in the United States while it has since ceased to exist in most modern nation-states. You can read more about the history of bail bonds here.

What If Where I Live Doesn’t Have Private Bail?

If you don’t have a surety or live in an area that does not allow private bail bonds, which include Massachusetts, Maine, Oregon, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Washington, D.C., your options are most likely through the court and the local jail. Read this article about what to do in a state that doesn’t have private bail.



Tips to Lower your Bail Bond fees

Tips to avoid paying too much in bail bond fees


Getting your loved one out of jail after they are arrested is your first priority.   This can be a stressful and daunting task especially if this is your first time.   Here are some things to consider avoiding paying too much in bail bond fees.

Hiring an expert criminal attorney for your case is crucial. They will help you and your loved one make the best decision on when and how to post bond.

Posting bond will typically be a 10% charge of your loved ones bail. For example if your loved ones bail is 75,000 you will be charged a bondsman fee of $7,500.   An attorney can actually lower this cost.

Attorney Referred Bonds

By contacting a lawyer before you talk to a bondsman you are entitled to an attorney referred bond. This type of bond will lower your bail from 10% to 8%. This can save you thousands of dollars. For example if your bond is $100,000 you can save $2000 by just retaining a lawyer that you will need anyway

A Lowered Bail Amount

In some instances it is better to post bail after the first court hearing or arraignment because your attorney can often convince the judge to reduce bail or even release you “on your own recognizance “meaning one would not have to post any bond.

Not Having to Pay Bail

In some instances, criminal charges are not filed within the statutory period of two court dates after your arrest. If this occurs the offender must be released from custody without having to post bail.

No decision should be made to post bail until you have discussed this with an experienced attorney.   An attorney can explain the specific details of your or your loved one’s case and offer advice in the defending person’s best interest.

If you have just heard your loved one is in jail facing charges, call and speak to an expert attorney right away before posting bond.   Allow what just happened to sink in, take a breath and allow an expert to walk you through this process.   In doing so, it can save you and your loved one money in the long run.

For more details and to speak with someone about you or a loved one’s case feel free to call____

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