It is easy to act rashly when one is faced with the prospect of criminal charges and jail time. Many criminal defendants sign up with the first bail bondsman they come across because their paramount interest is getting out of jail as quickly as possible. Prudence, however, dictates that you pause a moment and consider everything before signing that contract. After all, you will essentially be a client of that bail bondsman for the next few months to over a year, up until the time your case is disposed of with finality. Throughout that time, and to a certain extent, you will be beholden to the bail bondsman for your freedom.
As in most cases, it is always more comforting to hire a bail bondsman if you have reason to believe that they are dependable and trustworthy. If you have family and friends recommending a particular person with whom they have had a good experience with in the past, and you trust these people making such a recommendation, then you will have greater peace of mind in signing with a bail bondsman and handing them their fee. But what if you don’t have any such references?
It would be helpful, then, to restrain yourself from signing immediately with the first bail bondsman you meet. Take a bit of time to clarify things with them, conduct a short interview, and ask them all the questions you may have. This is the first test. A reliable bail bondsman will not hesitate to answer your questions, will be willing enough to have a conversation with you before signing a contract with him. At this point, you should also take some time to read the contract and clarify any questions you may have about the terms included in that contract.
One of the frightening things about being a defendant in the criminal justice system is the lack of knowledge most people have about what will happen. A bail bondsman can help you with this, even if it is only with regards to the bail proceedings. Ideally, he will have enough experience working as a bail bondsman in the area, so he knows what steps to take to file the bond, and to secure the defendant’s release as soon as possible. He will know which offices to go, which persons to speak to in order to make this process go as quickly as possible.
Be careful of a bail bondsman who charges you a fee of less than 10 percent of the bail amount. The bail bondsman’s fee is set by law, so he cannot give discounts. If he does, you are likely dealing with one who is not legally operating a legitimate business. You should also be wary of bail bondsmen who makes calls to your relatives demanding to be paid money for your release, or if the recommendation that brought them to your attention as a bail bondsman is too pushy or insistent. Remember, a contract with a bail bondsman is a valid and binding contract, but it is an agreement that you must voluntarily enter into.
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