More than a decade ago, an author published a controversial book claiming that Americans committed at least three felonies every day. The author proposed that this occurred because of the vagueness of American laws. Several years later, another study found that as many Americans have criminal records as college degrees. With numbers like these, bail bonds have become an increasingly common tool for securing freedom in Las Vegas and the rest of America.
What Is a Surety Bail Bond?
A bail bond serves as a cash-based guarantee from a third party that an arrested individual will show up on time for court when freed. When individuals or family members cannot pay the bail money, the accused person remains in jail until or unless the court releases him or her.
In cases where someone posts bail, the individual is freed but must still return to court at the appointed time. Failure to show up for court allows the court to issue a bench warrant and keep the full bond money. In cases where the person shows up for hearings, the court returns the bond money.
How Do Surety Bail Bonds Work?
If jailed persons or their loved ones determine the bail is set higher than they can afford, they seek a bail bond agent to pay a surety bond on their behalf. To secure a bail bond, accused persons or their loved ones pay a non-refundable percentage of the full bail amount. In some cases, this might also include putting up collateral for the bond.
The bail agent puts up a bond worth the amount of the bond but not cash money with the courts. If the defendant misses court and forfeits the bond the bail agent either has to get the defendant back before the judge within the allotted time allowed by the court or pay the full bond amount to the courts. If the person misses the court hearing date, the individual who secured the bail bond becomes liable to the bail bond agency. The owed amount might also begin to accrue interest and penalties.
When Are Bail Bonds a Good Idea?
Family members are often so desperate to free their loved ones from jail that they will do anything to get them out. This can compel people to make emotional decisions that come back to haunt them. While bonds are an excellent idea in some cases, in others, they can create a nightmare for everyone involved. This is when bonds make the most sense.
You Trust the Person
The last thing you want is to secure a bail bond for someone who then runs off. This leaves you on the hook for the full cost of the bond. That said, the same would be true if you paid the full cash amount directly to the court. Be mindful of who you pay bail for, no matter how much it costs and what route you choose.
The Bail Is Unaffordable
Sometimes courts set bail that is much too high for accused persons or their loved ones to afford. In these cases, bail bonds might become the best or only way to free them. According to one Las Vegas defense group, these are some of the factors courts take into consideration when determining an amount:
- How long the person has lived in Las Vegas
- Whether the person has maintained steady employment
- How strong relationships are with loved ones
- Previous criminal history or lack thereof
- The severity of the offense the person is accused of
- Character and mental condition of the individual
In short, the court tends to set lower bail money for persons who pose a low risk to other civilians and are unlikely to abscond. On that note, it is also possible for courts to allow no bail at all.
The Payer Is Cash-Strapped
Sometimes, you have the assets to secure bail for yourself or your loved one, but it would require liquidating assets you want to hold on to. You might even have the cash, but you worry about how losing it will affect cash flow in your personal life. In these instances, bail bonds might provide you with some financial security.
The Person Is the Breadwinner
If you live in a single-income family or the individual arrested is the primary breadwinner, his or her freedom determines your ability to pay the bills. In this case, freeing the jailed person becomes necessary so he or she can return to work as soon as possible.
The Person Is High-Risk
If your loved one has a mental disability, physical disability or chronic illness, jail time could worsen this. This could cause high levels of panic in both the individual and the family members involved. Consequently, freeing the person becomes a top priority.
Is There a Way To Lower the Bail Amount?
One way to save money on the percentage you provide upfront for bail bonds is to lower the total amount. Unfortunately, this might require your loved one to wait out his or her time in jail until a scheduled bail hearing.
At this hearing, an experienced criminal defense attorney could successfully get the amount lowered. That said, prosecutors will also likely put an argument forward to increase the bail, so there is no guarantee of the outcome.
Keep in mind that Las Vegas surety bail bond agents are not attorneys. Consequently, they cannot argue a case on your behalf or for your loved ones.
How Do You Find Reputable Bail Bonds Agents?
Nevada issues four types of bail licenses. At the very least, the agency you choose needs a bail agent or bail agency license. According to the Nevada Division of Insurance, this license authorizes the entity to post bail on someone else’s behalf. These are some additional duties of the licensee:
- Evaluating the risk of the defendant absconding
- Evaluating whether the defendant violated any terms of release
- Determining whether the defendant successfully appeared in court
It is also important to work with an agency that has several years of experience and a good reputation among current and former customers. At Lightning Bail Bonds, we have been in business for more than seven years and have an almost five-star rating from dozens of customers. We also have all our applicable licenses and are available to serve you 24 hours a day. Complete your online bail request today.