A bail bondsman typically only requires people to pay a fee and sign a contract when the company agrees to take on their cases. Sometimes, though, a bondsman will ask for collateral to secure the bond usually in cases it thinks the defendant will cause bail to be forfeited by the court. If the bail company asks you to provide collateral for a bond, here are two things to keep in mind when selecting something to give them.
Pick an Item Closest in Value
Any type of collateral you provide must cover the entire bail amount, not just the fee the bondsman charges. For example, if the judge sets bail at $5,000, even though the bail bond company only charges you a small percentage of that amount (usually around 10 to 15 percent), the collateral you provide must be worth at least $5,000.
The reason for this is that the bondsman will sell the collateral to cover its losses in the event bail is forfeited by the court and you're unable to pay the bond amount. If you use an item that's significantly worth more than the bond, there's a risk it will be sold for much less than its value and you could lose any profits you could've made if you had sold it yourself. Thus, you should limit your own losses by giving the company collateral valued as close to the bond amount as possible.
It should be noted, though, that you would still be responsible for paying any leftover balance if the sale of your collateral doesn't completely cover the bond. Be sure to talk to the bondsman about the options available to you should a situation like this occurs.
Choose Something You Can Afford to Lose
Along the same lines as picking an item of the right value, you should also make sure the item you use as collateral is something you can afford to lose. For example, you shouldn't put your vehicle up to secure the bond contract if it's your only means of transportation. You could end up losing your employment if the company takes possession of it and you have no way to get to your job.
If you don't have any other options except to use an irreplaceable item as collateral, discuss alternative payment options besides repossession with the bail bond company. Some bondsmen will let you make payments until the full amount is paid and will only take the collateral if you default. Others may let you switch over to a credit-based loan and return your collateral if your situation is dire enough.
Bail bonds are an excellent way to help your loved ones when they are in trouble, but it's important you take steps to protect yourself. For more information about bail bonds or assistance securing someone's release, contact a local bondsman.