Before you agree to post bail for a friend or family member who has been arrested, it is important for you to realize all of the possible risks you may face.
Many bail bonds agencies will allow, or even require, you to use the equity in your home as collateral for a bail bond. This means that they will put a lien on that property until the entire case has been resolved in court. In a perfect world, the case would be resolved quickly, with the defendant appearing at all court hearings without incident. But we all know that this isn't always the case.
If the unthinkable happens, and the person who came to you in their time of need refuses to go back to court once they've been bailed out, where does that leave you? To begin with, most defendants go to court without incident. The bondsman relies in the fact that you know the defendant well enough to be comfortable that willfully evading court simply will not happen. That being the case, the bondsman will remove the lien from your home at the conclusion of the case.
If the defendant "fails to appear" in court and cannot be found, as a cosigner of a bail bond, you are agreeing to be financially liable. That means that if the bail bond is for $15,000 and the person you are bailing out "skips" bail, then you will be responsible for paying the entire $15,000 plus any added costs and fees that the bondsman incurs when they attempt to find the defendant.
Most people don't have that kind of money readily available, so the bondsman has the right to foreclose on the property you put up as collateral in order to recoup expenses if a payment arrangement cannot be made.
Deciding whether or not to cosign a bail bond for anyone is not a decision to be made lightly. You should always look into the financial implications that you could face if the worst should happen. If you have any reason to believe that the person you are considering bailing out of jail will not face his or her responsibilities, then reconsider putting up your property as collateral for them.
There are some bail agencies that offer no-collateral bail bonds. They will not require you to put up your house, car or first born in order to draw up a bail bond contract. These agencies will ask for no more than the bail bond premium up front before posting bail.
Instead of having to worry about the possible loss of your car or home, seek out a bail bonds company that is willing to offer a no-collateral bail bond. While you would still be financially responsible if the defendant fails to appear in court, at least you won't have to fear losing your home.
If you are looking for information about no-collateral bail bonds in California, call 888-BAIL-BOND to speak with a licensed bail bondsman.