There is never a good time to find out someone you care for has been arrested. There is also never a good time to learn that it will cost a lot of money to get them out of jail. California bail amounts are often set in the tens of thousands of dollars. In Los Angeles County, for example, the average bail is $20,000 to $50,000 which means the average cost to bail someone out of jail can run between $2,000 and $5,000.
Where can you turn if you don’t have that in the bank, or are unable to put it on a credit card? Will you be able to save some money by shopping around? Below are few solutions to deal with the issue.
How Can I Get A Better Deal?
Most of the people who call our office have never needed to work with bail bonds company before and are unfamiliar with how the process works. It is not uncommon for friends and family members to spend quite a bit of time calling every bondsman in the phone book, trying to see if one will give them a better rate than the other. What many people don’t know is that bail is a regulated industry and the California Department of Insurance is the agency that sets the rate at which bondsmen are permitted to charge. The rate to purchase a bail bond in California is 10% of the defendant’s total bail amount. This cannot be negotiated or haggled because it is illegal to charge more than or less than the legal rate.
But I Saw An Ad For 5% Bail Bonds!
5% bail bonds to not exist in the state of California. If someone is offering to sell you a bond at 5% they are either trying to pull a “bait and switch” with the “offered rate” or they are breaking the law. Sometimes bail agents will advertise 5% bail bonds or even 2% bail bonds but what they are really referring to is the amount of money you’d need to put down in order to move forward with a payment plan. This tactic is merely used to get potential clients through the door. In instances like this, the 10% rate will be brought up once the process is three quarters of the way finished.
On the other hand, if they are indeed offering to sell you cheap bail bonds you need to know this person is willfully breaking the law. Can you trust this person not to surrender the defendant back to court without just cause?
Are they asking you for collateral? If yes, how sure can you be that they will return it once the case is over? If someone starts a business transaction behaving dishonestly there are no guarantees that they will suddenly become honest in the process. You need to ask yourself if saving a few bucks on the front end is really worth it. This decision could wind up costing you far more down the road.
What If I Can’t Pay All At Once?
Many bail bonds companies offer their clients the option of participating in a payment plan and the monthly payment can vary based on the amount you’re able to put down. If you have very good credit you may even be able to move forward with paying little to no money up front.
If you have questions about payment plans and eligibility requirements, be sure to ask the bondsman you’re speaking with. Every company works a little bit differently and just because Company A isn’t able to help you that is not to say that Company B can’t. Agencies may also have different requirements when it comes to collateral. Some bondsmen always require it, others only ask for it in certain circumstances. Ask lots of questions before signing anything and make sure you fully understand your options.
Ultimately, the most important thing when it comes to choosing a bondsman is experience and reputation. Bailing someone out of jail can be one of the most stressful things you’ll ever need to do in your entire life. You want to make sure you can trust the person who is helping you transact the bond and that they have your best interests at heart.