Fortunately, most people never need to know how do bail bonds work. But when you get a call from a loved one in the middle of the night it certainly helps to have an understanding of the process already.
The reason is that the more you know, the sooner your loved one can get out. The last thing you want to do is start researching the process while someone you care about is sitting in jail.
When someone gets arrested, they first get booked, which means they will have their personal belongings taken from them, they will have their fingerprints taken, a criminal record check will be made in a national database, and they will then be sent to the holding cell.
Sometimes they will be allowed to post bail while being booked, and sometimes they may have to wait for a bail hearing. That usually comes quickly although in some busy jails it can take a day or more.
At the time of setting bail, several things will be taken into account, such as if the defendant has a criminal record, do they show a risk of flight, how serious was the crime, and have they skipped bail before. These things will determine if they get bail and if so, how much.
It is usually at this point that the defendant will call friends or relatives asking to help with the bail. If the relatives can’t afford to post the bail themselves, they can use the services of a bail bondsman. The bondsman will usually charge between 10% and 15% of the amount of the bail amount. So a $50,000 bail will cost you $5,000 to $7,500. That is the fee and you do not get it back.
Once the arrangement is made with the bail bondsman, they will post the bail at the court house or the jail, and depending on how busy the jail is, the defendant may be released anywhere from 10 minutes to 24 hours.
They will be required to show up at all court hearings. Missing any appearances could result in forfeiture of the bail so it is very important the defendant makes every one of them.