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What Should You Do if You Can't Afford Bail?

If you or a loved one has been arrested, you may be required to pay bail before you can leave jail. Unfortunately, for some people, bail is unaffordable. What should you do if you can't afford to post bail? Here's a look at some options.

1. Have an Attorney Present at Your Arraignment

In some cases, bail is set automatically after your arrest using a bail schedule or special software. However, in other cases, you have an arraignment hearing. This usually happens shortly after you are arrested, and the judge sets your bail during the hearing.

You may find it helpful to bring an attorney to your arraignment hearing. They can argue to the court that you deserve to be released on your own recognizance or face a very small bail amount. Unfortunately, this action needs to be taken as soon as possible - if bail has already been set, you need to explore other alternatives.

2. Ask the Courts to Accept a Property Bond

If you don't have cash or available credit to cover your bail amount, consider asking the courts if they will accept a property bond. If the court agrees to this, you or a loved one sign over a property deed to the courts. You need to own the property outright or have significant equity to use this option.

To post a property bond, you need to request a special hearing. You must bring the deed, a preliminary title report, a history of property liens from the title company and a current appraisal or a property tax statement with the value of the property noted on it. If there are loans on the property, bring that paperwork as well.

All of the people listed on the deed must come to the trial, and they all must agree to usenthe property in this way. If the courts accept the property in lieu of bond and the accused doesn't show up for trial, you risk losing the property.

3. Work with a Bail Bond Company

You can also opt to work with a bail bonds company. The exact payment arrangements can vary, but expect to pay roughly 10 percent of the bail amount as a fee to the bail bonds company. That's a nonrefundable fee for the cost of the company's services.

Once you pay the fee, the bail bonds company posts the remaining portion of the bail. As long as the accused shows up for trial, the money gets refunded to the bail bonds company. If the accused does not show up for trial, you will be held financially responsible for the whole amount of the bail as well as any additional fees.

Because of the financial responsibility involved in taking out a bail bond, you should only take this step if you are confident that the accused will return for the trial.

4. Look for a Bail Bond Company That Accepts Payments

Depending on your budget, working with a bail bond company can be expensive. For instance, if bail is set at $85,000, the bail bond may cost you around $8,500. Luckily, there are bail bond companies that are willing to accept installments.

When you are able to pay in installments, you can split up the fee and pay it off over time. There may be additional charges for this service, and you may be required to have a certain credit rating or collateral.

It can be scary when a loved one is arrested, but it's important to help them get out of jail. Staying in jail until your trial increases the chances that you will plead guilty.

Fausto's Bail Bonds is here to help. We help bail out people who have been accused of crimes, and we even offer installment plans to clients who can't afford to pay the fee upfront. Contact us so we can help.​

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