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3 Financial Facts About Getting Your Loved One Out Of Jail With A Bail Bond

If a close friend or family member finds themselves on the wrong side of the law, you may need to help them get out from behind bars. Getting out of jail is often more than just a convenience, however. The defendant in a criminal case will usually need to hire a lawyer and take other steps to aid in their defense, all of which can be easier to accomplish from the outside.

While a bail bond is an excellent way to get someone out of jail quickly, you should be aware of a few facts before entering into a contract with a bondsman. Read more to learn about bail bonds and your rights so you'll know how to proceed should your loved one miss their court date in the future.

1. Co-Signing Adds Financial Responsibility

If you're co-signing a bond for a friend or loved one, you'll need to understand that you're entering into a financial agreement and assuming some amount of financial responsibility. In addition to paying the bond premium, you'll also be responsible for ensuring that the defendant shows up for their court date. The bond agent may hold you financially accountable for the total bond amount if they fail to appear.

Note that you may also need to put up additional collateral as a co-signer, and bond agents will typically require you to sign a contract promising to assist them in the future. This latter agreement guarantees that you will provide any necessary information if the defendant misses their court date or otherwise becomes unreachable by the bondsman.

2. You Aren't On the Hook

Although you need to accept some amount of financial responsibility when you co-sign on a bond, you aren't necessarily permanently on the hook for the actions of your loved one. Part of co-signing a bail bond means assuming a certain amount of responsibility to both the bond agent and the court system. This responsibility includes ensuring that the defendant makes their court date.

If you suspect that your loved one won't make their date, you can contact your bonds agent to report them. You'll typically be able to cancel the bond in these cases, removing your financial obligation to the court.

3. You Won't Hurt Your Credit

Bond companies typically want some assurances when working with a co-signer. These may include proof of income or employment, and they will often conduct a credit check. The hard credit check may have a minor and temporary impact on your credit, but co-signing on a bail bond will not have any long-term effects on your credit.

Deciding to co-sign for a loved one's bail bond is a personal and sometimes challenging choice, but you don't need to choose between your family member's freedom and your financial security.