The Bail Bonding Process
How Bail Works
Posting of a bail bond. This process involves a contractual undertaking guaranteed by a bail agent and the individual posting the bail. The bail agent guarantees to the court that the defendant will appear in court each and every time the judge requires them to.
For this service, the defendant is charged a percentage of the bail amount. Before being released the defendant or a relative or friend of the defendant, typically contacts a bail agent to arrange for the posting of the bail. Prior to the posting of a bail bond, the defendant or the co-signer must guarantee that they will pay the full amount of bail if the defendant does not appear in court.
Typically, a family member or a close friend of the defendant will post bail and co-sign. Collateral is not always required for a person to be bailed from jail. Often a person can be bailed from jail on the signature of a friend or family member. Cosigners typically need to be working and either own or rent a home in the same area for some time.
After and agreement is reached, the bail agent posts a bond for the amount of the bail, to guarantee the defendant’s return to court.
If the defendant “skips”, the co-signer is immediately responsible for the full amount of the bail. If the defendant is located and arrested by the bail agent the cosigner is responsible for all expenses the bail agent incurs while looking for the defendant.
How Bail Works In Georgia
- When a person gets arrested, they will be booked into either a county or municipal jail.
- Some jails allow multiple phone calls, while others only allow one.
- The defendant makes a call to a friend or loved one to get bonded out of that jail.
- The friend or loved one must then find a bondsman who is licensed and insured to write bail bonds for that specific Georgia jail.
- Provided that the person meets the qualifications of the bonding agency, they then become the co-signer on that bond (along with the bail agent).
- The co-signer pays a bonding fee of up to but no more than 15% of the total bail amount set by the judge or the county’s/city’s bonding schedule. This amount is non-refundable.
- The bondsman goes to the jail with a bond insured for the full amount of the bail.
- The jail then starts the release process.
- The jail-release process in Georgia can take up to 24 hours in some counties, but as little as 45 minutes in others.
- When the inmate is released from incarceration, he/she will be required to sign the bail bond at the office of the bonding company who wrote it.
- The defendant will then be required to check in weekly/monthly or what is dictated by bonding company until the completion of their court case.
What You Need To Qualify for Signing on a Bail Bond
When getting someone released by paying the full amount of bail directly to the jail, you have to be sure that the person goes to court so that you get your money back. When hiring a bonding company, they have the same vested interest in the defendant showing up for court for the same reason. If the person doesn’t show, also known as “jumping bail”, then the bonding company becomes liable for the full amount of the bail. By becoming a co-signer on the bail bond, then the financial responsibility gets shifted to you.
In either case, you want to be sure that the defendant shows up for court because, in the end, you are responsible for the entire bail amount if they don’t. A bonding company wants to be sure that you can cover the cost of the entire amount of bail if the person doesn’t show up for court.
That being said, here’s what you need to qualify as a co-signer on a bail bond:
- A valid identification.
- Proof of residence (recent utility bill or lease agreement).
- Proof of income (2 recent pay stubs).
- 25 years of age.
Some bonds may require a security deposit in addition to the standard 15% bond fee depending on your qualifications. If you have trouble meeting some of these requirements, please call and we’ll help troubleshoot to get your friend or loved one out of jail.
Arraignment and Own Recognizance Release
After booking, the next step is the arraignment, where you will be read the formal charges and be given an opportunity to arrange for your release. The main concern that authorities have is that you show up for your future court dates. In certain cases, you may be eligible to be released on what is known as your own recognizance. This means that you promise in writing to appear in court at a later date. A judge declining whether to grant own recognizance normally considers the following:
- The seriousness of the crime
- Your criminal record, if any
- Whether you pose a danger to yourself or the community
- There may be other factors included when deciding whether or not to grant a own recognizance release.
Criminal and Court History
People with criminal histories…especially those with histories that involved failures to appear at court will typically have higher bond amounts. For example, if a defendant has been granted bail on numerous occasions in the past and has always violated the bail conditions, then he or she is more likely to receive a higher bond amount if any bond is granted at all.
In addition to determining a bail amount that a defendant must pay to be released, courts typically impose additional limitations or requirements for defendants when making a bail determination. Limitations/guidelines are similar to those who have been found guilty of a crime and sentenced to probation. Violating bail conditions can result in the police taking the defendant back into custody until he or she’s trial date, as well as the forfeiture of any bail that has been paid.