What Are Bail Bonds?
THE BAIL BOND PROCESS AND THE COURT SYSTEM
The purpose of the bail system is to guarantee the appearance of a criminal defendant in court, and it is important that you know how the bail bond process works. Our licensed bail agents can answer all your specific questions or give you more bail bond information 24 hours a day. Please call at 864-580-2245.
HOW DO BAIL BONDS WORK?
A bail bond is formally known as a “Surety Bond”. Usually, a friend, relative, attorney or defendant will contact a bail bond company by phone. During the initial phone consultation, most bail bond companies will collect basic information about the situation, such as where is the detainee being held, how long have they been there, what are the charges, how long have they been in their current residence, do they work, etc. The bail company is assessing the risk involved in the bail bond.
If the customer chooses to purchase a bail bond, the customer will need to sign bail bond documents including a Bail Bond Application, a Bail Indemnity Agreement, and a receipt.
Our company can process bail by fax or e-mail in just a few minutes or we can dispatch a licensed bail bond agent to the customer.
After the bail bond paperwork is finalized, a licensed agent will “post” the bail bond at the appropriate detention facility or jail which will result in the release of the defendant. From start to finish, a competent bail bond company will complete the entire bail bond process in 1 to 2 hours. Note that we can’t begin the bail bond process until all the arrest and booking procedures are complete.
For this service, the customer is charged a fee (usually 10% of the full bail amount, which is mandated by state law). Always There Bail Bonds offers payment options to meet your needs. Be wary of bail bondsmen offering cheap bail bonds for 5% or less. Bail bond cost is set by South Carolina law, and bail agents who charge less are violating the law or may simply be using “bait & switch” to get your business.
By involving family, friends, and possible collateral, the bail bond company can be reasonably assured that an individual released on bail bond will appear at their appointed court date. With their money at risk, the bail bond company has a financial incentive in supervising bailees, so that they ensuring that they appear for trial. If a defendant “skips bail “, the bail agent has time to find the defendant and bring them in.
With this in mind, always understand your bail bond indemnitor responsibility before you agree to sign on someone else’s behalf. If the person fails to appear, the bail bond company will expect you to know where the defendant can be found and assist in their return to court.
ARREST AND BOOKING
When an individual is arrested, generally, they will be taken to a local law enforcement station for booking. During the arrest and booking process, bail will be set, if applicable. After they have been booked, the defendant has several options for release which are outlined below.
The booking process basically consists of fingerprinting, background check, check for warrants and getting into the computer system. The detainee will be searched for weapons. Their personal belongings will be catalogued and retained by the jailer. During their time in jail the detainee will not have access to their money, credit cards, cell phones, etc.
After fingerprints are taken, the arrestee is taken to a cell. The cell may or may not have a payphone for use. Some jails allow for phone calls before the person is brought to the cell, others will give phone access when it is convenient for the jailer.
There is considerable work involved on the part of the jail to get the individual “processed in”. After the jailer has done this work, the computer system needs to update. The entire process can be time consuming. Some jails, especially smaller jails, do this quickly and efficiently and are complete with “processing in” in an hour or less. Other jails take several hours to accomplish this. The busyness of the jail is also a large factor in determining the time required to process an arrestee.
OPTIONS FOR RELEASE
There are the 5 options for release
Bail Bond (formally a Surety Bond)
Bail bonds are explained in detail above.
Own Recognizance (also known as “O.R.”)
Defendants can be released on their Own Recognizance, also known as “OR”. This is usually reserved for lesser crimes. Only a judge can decide to release a detainee on OR. In such a case, the defendant is released with a written promise to appear in court.
Release from jail may be obtained by posting a property bond with the court in some. Because Property Bonds involve real estate and can be likened to the buying or selling of a home, the process usualy takes several weeks. Equity in the property must be equal to 150% of the total bond amount. Fees on a property bond would be similar to escrow fees, appraisal and title search fees, for example. If the defendant fails to complete court requirements, the court would foreclose on the property.
To be released on cash bail, an individual must post the full amount of the the bail with the court in the form of cash or cashiers check. In order to post cash bail, an individual should check with the clerk to verify forms of payment accepted in an individual jurisdication as different courts may have other options or restrictions. The source of funds for large bail generally must be verified to ensure that funds come from legal sources.
After the case has been resolved, the entire amount is refunded. Cash bail is a good option for people with a low dollar bail amount or who can afford to have large sums of money tied up for an extensive period of time.
Citation Release (also known as a “Cite Out”)
A Citation Release involves the issuance of a citation to the arrestee, informing the arrestee that he or she must appear for an appointed court date. This is typical for more minor infractions such as traffic violations.
RELEASE FROM JAIL
The jail release process can be likened to the booking process in reverse. Unfortunately for the detainee and the waiting family, it is not like checking out of a hotel where an accounting is presented and paid and you go on your way.
Regardless of the release option employed, the computer system must be updated, the detainee is brought from the cell, personal belongings are collected and accounted for and the individual receives paperwork explaining the charges and where and when to appear.
This process may take a few minutes in a small jail, but may take hours in a crowded or busy jail. The timing generally cannot be accurately determined and certainly cannot be guaranteed. Should you use Always There Bail Bonds, we can assist with our experience regarding timing of release for various jails.
Please call us at 864-580-2245 to immediately talk with a licensed agent about how bail bonds work or the bail bond process.