Life rarely goes as planned, and while sometimes the unexpected is pleasant, other times, it is decidedly not. When you learn of a loved one’s arrest, the unexpected is unwanted. Fortunately, you have the opportunity to keep your loved one out of jail until the final hearing. Unfortunately, doing so often comes at a high price. That’s where bail bonds come in.
Bail bonds are designed to help individuals and their loved ones cover the often sky-high amount of bail. Before you decide to work with just any Midwest bail bonds agency, however, you should do your homework so you can know how to find a reliable bondsman. Use these four tips to get started.
- Ask About Fees
Bail bondsmen, like any service provider, charge a fee for their services. The fee is typically about 10% of the bail amount, but it can be more or less depending on the state. For instance, Florida has a minimum fee of 6.5%. In Nevada, the fee cannot exceed $50 or 15%, whichever is greater, but in Minnesota, there is no maximum. Because Minnesota law does not set a maximum, it is imperative that you shop around for the best possible fee from the most reputable agency.
- Ask for Referrals
No, don’t go asking around for referrals from friends and family. Rather, turn to individuals who have the most experience in dealing with bond agencies: Detention officers and attorneys. If you already have a defense lawyer, ask him or her for referrals. Most lawyers have connections with bail bond agencies and can help clients receive a slight discount on the fee.
If you don’t already have an attorney, or if your attorney doesn’t have any connections, get friendly with the detention officers. Detention officers have even more experience with bail bondsmen and can refer you to the most reputable companies. Not only that, but officers with considerable sway in the system can help you obtain a lower bail amount.
- Be Wary of “Super Cheap” Bonds
Because Minnesota law does not set minimum or maximum bond amounts, you will find Benton county bail bonds that range from the super cheap to the exorbitantly expensive. While most people steer clear of costly bonds, many are drawn to the super cheap. Going the cheap route is almost never a good idea, as agencies that offer low fees either are inexperienced, engage in shady practices or both. As a general rule, you should avoid agencies that offer a 5% or lower fee.
- Consider an Agency
There are bail bondsmen who offer their services out of their homes, and then there are agencies. While there are certainly reputable individual bondsmen, working with an agency is almost always the safer route. Agencies are often well-known by the courts and attorneys and readily available, with many offering their services 24/7 and on holidays. Moreover, companies have strict measures in place to ensure the confidentiality of your information throughout the duration of your case. Finally, because agencies often have a full staff, they can assist in posting bond, thereby ensuring your loved one gets out of jail sooner.
No one wants to have to work with a bail bond agency. However, if you’re forced to, make sure you work with a reputable one by using the tips above.