No one ever expects to receive the “I’ve been arrested, can you please help get me out of jail” call from a friend or family member. Most people go their entire lives without needing to help bail someone out. In many cases, the only exposure they’ve had to our industry is based on what they’ve seen on television. That can be scary.
At this point, the only thing they can focus on is getting their loved one out of jail fast. They might start their search for a bondsman by grabbing the local Yellow Pages or hopping on the Internet. This can soon become overwhelming because bail bonds companies are a dime a dozen. How do you know which one to choose?
Referrals are always a good place to start. Do you know someone who has worked with a bondsman before, or do you know a criminal defense attorney who can make a recommendation? If someone has had a good experience with a particular company in the past you may consider giving them a call.
If you are unable to get a referral you may want to do a little bit of research on a company before you hire them. How long have they been in business? Are they accredited with the Better Business Bureau? Do they offer 24-7 bail bonds service? What types of payment do they accept? Do they have a website and if so, does it provide client testimonials? Client testimonials are a great indicator in terms of shedding some light on the type of service the company provides.
You may also want to ask if they require you come into their officer or if they can assist you with bail bonds by fax and email. When you bail a person out you are first and foremost taking responsibility the defendant will go to court and handle their case. The bondsman you’re working with will need you sign a contract acknowledging that responsibility. You will also be asked to provide some basic contact information for you and the defendant and to sign off on the agreed method of payment for the bond.
Some companies require you complete this paperwork in person. Others allow their clients the ability to fill out paperwork via fax or email. This can be especially convenient if you’re stuck at work, are unable to immediately travel to their office or if you are calling from out of state. It can be even more convenient if you receive the call for help in the middle of the night.
Bailing someone out of jail is a lot less complicated than many people think. The biggest challenge comes in choosing the right bondsman. All California bail agents are required by law to charge the same rate but that is not to say they all provide the same level of customer service. Do you get the sense you can trust the person you’re speaking with? Does it seem as if they genuinely care about your situation, or does it seem as if they are trying to “wheel and deal” you?
Finding out someone you care for has been arrested can have your world feel as if it has been turned upside down. Finding a reputable bail bondsman you can trust can make a world of difference when it comes navigating an unfamiliar situation and ensuring the defendant can get out of jail fast.