FAQ

What happens first to the person arrested?

First, the arresting officer takes the person to jail where he or she is ‘booked’ for their particular offense. Once the individual is booked in, a picture and fingerprints are taken then they will be allowed to place their first phone call.

How long does the booking process take and what is involved?

The booking process is generally long and tedious for both parties. During this process the jail is running the arrestee’s name and social security number for pending warrants in other cities and states. A copy of the arrestee’s fingerprints is sent to the jail for comparison and identity verification of that individual; photographs are taken, booking numbers assigned, courts and appearance dates are set, along with the bail amount; which normally coincides with the charge (offense).

What happens next to the defendant after he/she is booked? When can they be bailed out of jail?

These are the most common things that happen once a person is booked.

  • Sometimes a defendant is released and no charges are filed.
  • The defendant is released on his/her own recognizance (R.O.R), however, the person must make all court appearances or there will be a warrant issued and the process begins again.
  • The defendant is released on bail bond.
  • No bail is set and the defendant must remain in jail until he/she goes to court.
What does a bail agent do?

The bail agent is the person who posts your negotiated bond with the jail and obtains the release of the defendant. The bail agent cannot post a bond until all the requirements, listed in the first question, have been met. The jail will not release anybody without the bail amount defined, the court and date set, and confirmation that there are no pending warrants.

Once the defendant’s bond has been posted, how long before they are released?

Although this varies from county to county, the time before a defendant’s release is ultimately up to the jail. Bonding agents have no control over which parties come first in line to be released from custody. However, each major city has a comfortable office with complimentary refreshments while you wait.

Can I speak to the person who has been arrested and is waiting to be booked?

The only way you can communicate with the arrested person is when you receive a call from the person in jail.

Does that person get ONLY ONE phone call?

Again, this varies from location to location, but defendant’s are allowed more than one phone call while in booking, where most of their calls are free of charge. They can call a friend or family member, or a bail bonding company. If they do not bond out within a reasonable amount of time, the defendant is then dressed out and assigned to a living space located in the back of jail. Once there, their calls may be limited to local numbers or people that have accounts with the collect call companies.

Is a bail company the only option available to get someone out of jail?

For fast release, the jail recognizes two sources:

  1. A licensed bail company, registered by the courts, can post a bail bond. (Always ask to see identification from a bail agent.)
  2. Full cash bail deposited with the court *In this case, the full cash bail will be refunded unless there are court fees and fines outstanding. The downside to this option is sometimes it can take up to two years to get your money back from the courts.

In some cases, the court may agree to use property bond as collateral for the defendant’s release. An attorney or the court clerk would best advice you on this matter.

What does a bail company and its agents do?

A bail company is licensed by the courts in the jurisdiction in which the company resides. It is permitted to write bails (or post bonds) for those counties where it is registered. The bail agent is guaranteed by the bail company and the court, required to maintain continuing education classes and has had a full investigative check on his/her background for any past or present criminal activity before obtaining a license. Please note that the law strictly prohibits the bail agent from giving any legal advice.

What is a bail bond?

A bail bond is termed, surety bond. It is a piece of paper – the bail bond, underwritten or backed by each individual company itself (surety). Each bond written must correspond and not exceed, in face value to that specific amount of bail. This bond is taken by the jail, more or less, in exchange for the person in jail. Financial guarantees for each bond are tiered as follows: When the forfeiture of a bond occurs, the bonding company has to pay the courts, first. The bonding company then simultaneously seeks payment from the original indemnifier who negotiated the release of the defendant. Last, the bonding company, whose authority and power, guarantees all bonds written by itself may have to pay for a forfeited bond. This is why collateral and strong indemnities are required. The network of companies, people and financial guarantees that go into the ‘making of a bond’ are all about securing the bond until it is finally exonerated and all liability is released.

What are the basic steps in securing a bond – The ABC’s?

When you call us we practice the ABC’s. They are as follows:

Ask how we can help you with all your needs.
Believe that we are the best company to help you.
Compete for your business.

A. We can help you through a difficult situation. The entire writing of a bond takes very little time- usually under one hour. A few short questions and the bond is ok’d!

B. Our knowledgeable agents know what it takes to negotiate the money side of getting a bond done. It has to be a win-win situation for both parties. We can help turn a bad encounter with the jails and police into a better experience – someone cares, that’s us!

C. Your business is greatly appreciated. If you’re ever in a jam again, give us a call- we never sleep! What does a bond cost, who pays for the bond and how? The bond cost, called a premium, is 10% of the bond amount. You, as our client needing to post a bond, either for yourself or a loved on, are responsible for this fee. It is the bail company’s source of income and therefore, non-refundable. Now the first part is done. The second part of negotiating a bond is securing the full value of the bond usually by some form of collateral – just in case the defendant forfeits (this is only applied in rare occasions).

*Remember, Free at Last is posting the entire amount of the bond in full and holding that surety until the case is settled, months and sometimes years. Even if a person’s charges are dropped, once the jail has accepted our bond, it becomes a binding agreement and the ‘premium’ is non-refundable.

What about collateral? Is it always needed to secure a bail bond? Are there other options?

Collateral is not always needed with us. Your signature may be the only guarantee necessary, especially if you own a home. In most cases, signing or cosigning on a bond does not mean that a lien is garnished against your property at that time, it simply assures Free at Last and our agents that the defendant will appear at any and all court dates.

If property is needed to obtain a bond, when is the lien released?

Property is released when the bond is exonerated, which means the case(s) is settled. Some courts send bail companies the notices of exoneration, sometimes the exoneration notices must be requested. Either you or the bail company can get this done within a very short time and your property will be re-conveyed at that time.

When money is used for collateral, when is the money returned?

Any monies being held in escrow will be returned when the bond is exonerated. The same procedures apply as with property – see question above.

How long is a bond valid?

A bond is valid as long as the case lasts. If the case lasts for more than a year, but not more than 2 years, the bond company is entitled to another full ‘premium’ payment. The same bond continues until the case is completed.

What happens if the person bailed out is late for court? Is the bond forfeited?

Technically, yes, the bond could be forfeited at that time. The court may view the defendant’s failure to appear as a willful act and issue an additional warrant. The defendant will then be subject to arrest.

If you know the person is going to be late or can’t find the right courtroom, Please contact your local agent, or any Free at Last office to make us aware and our team will lead you in the right direction or contact the courts on your behalf. It is always best to make a late appearance than no appearance at all.

Is an attorney necessary? What about a public defender?

In a criminal matter, the defendant should consult with an attorney. Many attorneys offer a free consultation.

At your first court appearance, commonly known as an arraignment, the defendant will be asked if he/she can afford an attorney. If the answer is no, the courts will appoint either a court appointed attorney or the Public Defender’s office.