What You Need to Know About Bail Bonds

1. How long does it take to get out of jail?

The paperwork takes approximately 15-30 minutes. The release time after the jail receives the paperwork is generally one hour or less for local police stations and 2-4 hours for county jails. Generally speaking, the busier the holding facility, the longer it takes.

2. Why don’t I get my premium back?

The bond company puts up the full amount of the bond. Bail premiums (a.k.a. the $$$ you pay) are paid to bonding agency for use of their money, like interest on a bank loan.

3. Why can’t I do a cash bond myself?

You usually can for traffic and minor violations. While a few jurisdictions do allow cash bail by the citizen’s that sign an appearance guarantee and/or post the entire bail, most states now require a licensed bond agent to guarantee it. This way the state knows it can instantly collect the entire bond amount plus it can put the burden of apprehending those who fail to appear on the bond agency. Put another way, most states do not hassle with collateral and property; they collect bail forfeitures in cash.

4. What is and isn’t good collateral?

Items that are considered good collateral:

Unencumbered Real Estate is good.

Items of major collateral such as a car, boat, motor home, etc. are deemed good, but must be surrendered to the bail agent who will hold them in secure place. These items are normally valued at their current resale value, not what you originally paid for them.

Personal items of high value such as jewelry, firearms, computers, cameras, stereos, etc. can be used as collateral, but like items of major collateral, must be surrendered to the bail agent who will hold them in a safe or other secure place. These items are normally valued at their current resale value, not what you originally paid for them.

Items that are not considered good collateral:

A house that you are still paying a mortgage on. It can be done, but it takes some time.

Any item (such as a car) that you have purchased on credit in which the lender holds the title and you make payments to.

5. When do I get my collateral back?

Upon completion of the court case. This happens when:

The charges are dropped.

The person is found innocent at trial.

The person is sentenced at trial.

Of course, the collateral will only be returned if there is no outstanding balance due on the premium. The bail bond agent has a fiduciary (formal legal) responsibility to safeguard all collateral.

6. What are the chances that a person will be released on their Own

Recognizance (OR)?

OR release practices vary widely by court jurisdiction. Generally the more severe the charge, the less likely OR release is. Checking with the court or criminal attorney is probably the best way to gauge the chances other than asking the jailers themselves.

A judge is likely to consider a person’s stability in the community and their employment when setting bail. But you should also know that bails and OR release standards have been raised in domestic dispute cases over the past few years. Some states now even have “mandatory cooling off” periods in which bail is not immediately granted for these types of cases.

7. What happens if the person does not appear in court as promised?

A bench warrant is issued for the person’s arrest and the person’s name will appear in police bulletins as a fugitive. Although specifics vary depending on the jurisdiction, generally the court also authorizes the bail agency arrest authority for the individual as well.

The bail agency normally calls the person’s home, work, and other references to try to find the fugitive and convince them to appear. If these efforts are unsuccessful, the agency may then search and employ apprehension specialists (private investigators) to arrest the fugitive.

From the perspective of someone who guaranteed the appearance by posting collateral, you want to convince the fugitive to surrender himself/herself to the police or court as soon as possible. Normally, if the fugitive is returned before actual remittance to the state, you can usually get your collateral back.

If the fugitive does not surrender and cannot be found by the forfeiture date, the bail agency remits the entire bond to the court and proceeds with legal action to (seize, if necessary and) liquidate your collateral. By law, the bail agency is required to refund any value received in excess of the bail amount following liquidation.


Rules and Regulations vary from county to county for the Bail

Bonds Industry in the State of Texas. Each county has a Bail

Bond Board.

Collateral, (which ranges from a minimum of signing a promissory note and indemnity agreement to filing a property lien or using cash, jewelry or anything else of value*), is sometimes required to guarantee that the defendant will appear.

Collateral is released once the case is adjudicated or settled.

Those posting Bail Bonds are not responsible for the defendant’s fines or court costs. However, those posting the full cash amount of the Bail, should be aware that all fines and court costs levied by the court will be assessed from the cash posted.

Also be advised that should the defendant show signs of preparing to flee the jurisdiction, no law enforcement agency will come to help you return them to the Jail. If you attempt to return them to jail on your own, you will be exposing yourself to possible criminal charges.

Should the defendant fail to appear for his appointed court date, the judge will order that the full amount of the bond be taken and the chances that any law enforcement agency will look for the fugitive are very remote.

Posting a surety bond with a bail bond company ensures the defendant’s appearance in court. If the defendant fails to appear, the bail bond company has the authority to apprehend this person and place into custody. That protects the bail bond company, plus the person who co-signed the bond.


You’ve just learned a friend or loved one is being held. Follow these steps to get him or her bailed out: Be sure about which jail he or she is in. (Is it

county, city, or federal?)

What is the book in number?

What is the charge?

Have the person’s full legal name.

Try to determine the date of birth, if possible.

Go to your home or other place where you can stay for a while and receive telephone calls.

The Bail Bond Agent probably needs to contact you several times.

Be sure you know the telephone number where you are staying.

Try to have access to a fax machine or the number to one you can access (e.g. the local Kinko’s fax number, a friend who has a fax, etc.)

There is normally no need for you to go to the jail. In most jurisdictions, only a licensed Bail Bond Agent can post bail. Also, persons who have just been arrested and are being processed are usually not eligible to see visitors for several hours.

Try to find out how much the Bail amount is.

Bail Bond Agencies are normally required by law to collect 10% of the Bail set as a Premium. You will have to pay this amount or arrange financing with a Bail Bond Agent to assemble the funds. Cash, credit cards, and checks are just some of the ways in which to help clients assemble the funds needed.

The Bail Bond Agency guarantees the full amount of the Bail to the Court as guarantee that the person will appear. You may be required to guarantee that appearance by providing collateral for the entire bond amount. Therefore, try to know what collateral property you could provide (e.g. House, Car, Boat, or other property of value).

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