I’m sure you have a lot of questions on how bail bonds work and what you need to have in order to qualify for bonding someone out of jail. The legal system can be very confusing and with the jail saying one thing, a lawyer saying another, and your friend or loved one in jail saying another, it can be extremely frustrating to make sense out of it all. The information provided below will help you start the process of getting an inmate released.
Bail Bonds: Your Options
You have three options when thinking about getting a person released from jail.
- Pay the entire amount of bail to the legal entity that is detaining the person.
- Hire a bondsman and pay a percentage.
- Let the person stay in jail until they see a judge.
Let’s go over each real quickly.
Paying the Full Amount of Bail to the Jail Directly
If you choose to pay the full bail amount to the jail, those funds will be returned to you once the defendant has entered a plea for their case. If you have some disposable income, then this might be a good option because in the long run, you will come out even.
In cases where the bail is too much for you to pay (which is most common), and you need to get the defendant out of jail, then you should hire a bail bonds service where the bondsman is licensed for the jail in which the inmate is being detained.
Hiring a Bondsman
There are two big differences between this option and the last. For one, you will only have to pay a percentage of the bail fee. This can range from 10% to 15%, depending on the county and your credentials as a co-signer on the bond. The second thing that’s different with hiring a bail bonds agent is that you won’t get your money back. This is similar to how a loan works.
Visit our How bail bonds work page for specifics, but basically the process works like this…
You pay the bondsman a percentage of the bail as their fee. They pay the jail the entire amount of the bail. The inmate gets released from jail and has a court date set. When the defendant shows up for court, the bonding company gets their money back. If they don’t show for court, the co-signer (you) become financially liable for the entire amount of the bail payable to the bonding company.
Waiting Until a Bail Hearing
When a person is first arrested and taken to jail, they will first be booked into the system which can take several hours. After that, a standard bail amount will be set according to the presiding county’s “bail schedule.” If no bond is set, then a bail hearing (or first appearance) will be set on the next business day. In this case, you’ll have to wait until the inmate sees the judge before you can even start to bond them out.
If bail is already set, you may still want to wait until the defendant goes before the judge. A lot of times the prosecutor will meet with a defendant and offer a plea agreement. When a person agrees to give a plea, the prosecutor will advise the judge to release the inmate on “time served.” So, if the inmate is going to have to do jail time anyway, then they might consider waiting it out in jail and just getting it over with. For most people, this isn’t an option as they have jobs, kids to look after, and other daily responsibilities that can’t be put on the back-burner.
One other reason to wait a couple of days, if it’s an option, is that the judge might reduce the bail to either a signature bond or a lesser amount of money. You may have to schedule a bail hearing to get a bail reduction.
Here’s 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 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 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 Georgia driver’s license.
- 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 10%-15% bond fee depending on your qualifications. If you have trouble meeting some of these requirements, please call us and we’ll help you troubleshoot to get your friend or loved one out of jail. Not sure which jail your friend or loved one is in? Use our inmate search tools to locate the inmate so that you can tell our bondsman in which jail he or she is currently incarcerated.