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Archive for the ‘Bail’ Category

How does Bail Work in the United States?

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

“Bail” is a way in which you can be released from prison while you are awaiting trial. The court sets a dollar amount – known as your bail – in order to prevent you from fleeing before your court date. If you have been accused of a crime, it is important to understand how the bail process works.

Generally, you have three choices when it comes to bail. First, if you have enough money, you can pay the bail yourself. This is often possible in small court cases where there is little risk of your leaving the country. The bail here might be quite low. If you show up in court, that bail money is returned to you. Your second option is to simply not take the bail offer at all. If this is the case, you must remain in prison while you wait for your court date. That can be anywhere from a few days to months after your initial proceedings. Usually, remaining in jail is not a desired option.

The third choice is to work with a bail bondsman in order to try to make bail. If you go with this option, you’ll usually have to pay in 10% of your bail – and this money will not be returned to you, even if you do show up in court. Instead, it goes directly to the bail bondsman.

Why? Well, the bondman has put up the rest of the money on your behalf. This may be someone you know, like a family member, or it may be a corporation or private investor who simply wants to make money with bail bonds. In exchange for putting up the money so you can go free, the bail bondsman collects a fee from you – usually 10% of the total bail. The court holds this money, and when you show up, instead of it being rewarded to you, it is rewarded to the bondsman.

If you don’t show up in court, and you’ve gone with the first option, you do not get your money back, even if you show up at a later date (even if you are late to court, this money may not be returned). By going with the second option, there is no doubt that you will be in court on the appropriate days.

If you don’t show up and have worked with a bail bondsman, you will be in real trouble. This means that the bail bondsman has to find you or pay the entire bail amount before a certain date. That’s where bounty hunters come into the mix. A bounty hunter is employed by the bail bondsman to track you down. Bounty hunters are extremely resourceful and rarely eluded, so it is in your best interest to simply show up in court. After all, jumping bail, whether you worked with a bail bondsman or not, is a criminal offense.

Not every court case has bail. For some people, personal recognizance is permitted instead of money. This “bail” is simply the word of the defendant or an associate that the accused will show up in court. The judge or bail commissioner can set bail at whatever he or she believes is fair, according to the law. If you’ve been accused of a crime, understanding how bail works can help you make the best decisions about what to pay.

Property Bail Bonds

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

If you are accused of a crime and arrested, bail will be set for your release. Bail is a dollar amount set to ensure that you actually come back to your trial or other court dates. While bail is by no means a sure way to make sure that everyone returns, the incentives are high. If you don’t come back and instead “jump bail,” your money won’t be returned and if (and when) you are caught again, you’ll have another charge to add to your list, since jumping bail is a criminal offense. In addition, most judges won’t give you a second chance, so you won’t be able to pay bail the second time. You’ll be stuck in jail until your trial comes to court – which could be weeks or even months.

There are a number of different kinds of bail. You can either pay the bail yourself, in full, and get the money returned to you when you or you can pay 10% to a bail bondsman and not get that money back. Both choices work well for someone who has no intentions of jumping bail. There is, however, a third choice that some people don’t know about.

You can also get a property bail bond. This is a great option if you own your own home or a vacation home. The property basically becomes security as bail money would. Note that in order to use your property, however, you may have to go through extensive paperwork. In some states, you may also have to move out until the property is effectively yours again. It depends on your state’s laws.

In order to qualify for a property bail bond, you must first and foremost own property. If you have a mortgage, the entire value of your property cannot be considered. Instead, an appraiser will determine the fair market value of the property and the amount you still owe on your mortgage loan will be subtracted from that. This gives you your equity. Only your equity can be considered when a judge is deciding whether or not you’ll be permitted to use your property as collateral for bail.

Your property doesn’t have to b completely paid off, but the equity you do have to be quite substantial. Say you have your bail set at $100,000. If your house is worth $100,000, it will not be sufficient to use for bail. In most cases, your property has to be worth double the amount of the bail bond amount. That means, for a $100,000 bail bond, you have to have $200,000.

If you use your property in a property bail bond, the court will get a lien for the bail amount. This lien gives them the right to foreclose on your property if you disappear when you court date arrives. Legally, they can sell it very quickly if they want. After all, the court system is not in the business of real estate investing. Selling quickly means that they’ll sell below market value in most cases, which is why your property has to be worth more than your bail bond amount. So, if you’re going to go with a property bail bond, make sure that you consider you options carefully.

Should I Invest in Bail Bonds?

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

Bail bonds can be seen as a form of investment. However, unlike other investment options, although the rewards are great, the risks are even great. Before you put your money into a bail bond, make sure that you understand your responsibilities regarding that investment.

When someone is arrested, they have an initial hearing to ensure that there really is enough cause for the arrest. There may be other preliminary hearings as well. While awaiting trial, the accused must wait in jail. However, because of the unfortunate high number of criminal cases in the United States, it might be weeks or even months before the trail takes place. That means that an innocent man or women may wait in jail, missing work, losing touch with children, and otherwise having his or her life fall apart. The bail system is set in place to allow freedom for those not yet proven guilty.

The problem with allowing defendants to go free is that it gives them the opportunity to run. Of course, rarely will anyone who is innocent miss a court dates. However, someone who is guilty may run. That’s where bail comes into play. Bail is money that the accused give to the court that he or she will only get back. Sometimes, the accused is able to pay for the bail him- or herself, but depending on the crime, the likelihood that the defendant will run, and so forth, the bail may be quite high. That’s where a bail bond investor comes into play.

Sometimes the bail bondsman knows the defendant. Sometimes he or she does not. In any case, the bail bondsman is willing to put his or her money on the line for the accused. Why? Well, the bondsman can then charge a fee, usually 10%. So, if you put up $100,000 for bail, the accused will pay in $10,000 and, when he or she shows up for court, that $10,000 will be returned to you. That’s a pretty big payoff for just a few months of investing your money.

The danger here, of course, is that the accused will jump bail. That means that he or she does not show up at court dates or report in with his or her parole officer. You have two options – find the person or pay in the full bail amount. You can try to find the person using a bounty hunter, but this doesn’t always work. You may be stuck with the huge bail bill if the accused skips town, and in any case, you’ll have to pay the bounty hunter if he or she is caught, meaning that you’ll make little profit, if any at all.

Investing in bail bonds makes the most sense when you know the accused and trust that he or she will show up in court. You can work out a deal in order to pay for his or her bail so that you make a bit of profit. However, also beware. If you pay for the bail, it is never a guarantee that you will get your money back. Before you invest in this risky venture, make sure that you understand you responsibilities and are prepared to deal with the outcomes, whatever they may be.

Types of Bail Bonds

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

If you have been accused of a crime, a bail bond is your ticket to freedom while you are awaiting trial. However, not all bail bonds are created equally. Take a moment to learn about the different types. This can help you determine what you need to pay, whether you’ll get your money back, and what you can do if you don’t have enough money.

• Federal Bail Bonds: Federal crimes are usually more intense, and thus, federal bails bonds are usually more expensive. The amount of the bail bond is dependent on a number of factors, but these bonds cannot usually be paid by the individual, given their cost. A bail bondsman comes in really handy for federal bail bonds.

• Cash Bonds: If you can, you are able to put on the money for the bail right away in cash. This is called a cash bond, and a bail bondsman is not involved. The good thing about a cash bail bond is that you will have the money returned to you as long as you show up in court – or you can have the money put toward fines. However, bail can be quite expensive, so in most cases, it is impossible to pay for the bail bond in cash.

• Immigration Bail Bonds: Sometimes, the crime you commit can involve more than one country or involves you in the Unites States even though you are legally from another country. When this is that case, your bail bond is called an “immigration bail bond.” It is harder to even get bail in these situations, and usually the cost of an immigration bail bond is extremely high.

• Property Bail Bonds: If you own property, you may be able to put that up for collateral instead of paying for your bail in cash. In most cases, the property must be completely owned by you (ie, you can’t still be paying the mortgage). The property value usually has to be much higher than the cost of the bail bond itself. That way, if you don’t show up for court and they sell your property, they’ll be able to make the money back, even I they have to sell it quickly below true market value.

There are many bail bonds companies and private bail bondsmen who are willing to front the money to pay for your bail. However, keep in mind that they collect a fee and, thus, you will not get your share of the money back. Usually, you have to put forth 10%. When you show up in court, they return that 10%, but to the bail bondman. That’s why they are willing to risk the rest of the money – the financial rewards are great.

Understanding the bail bonds system is crucial if you are accused of a crime. If you don’t make bail, you’ll have to wait in jail for your court date, and that could take weeks or months in some cases, since the court system is always backed up with cases. Your best option is to pay the bail yourself or to find a bail bondsman to sponsor you.

What are Bounty Hunters?

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

Although illegal in most of the world, bounty hunting is still a practice that occurs in the United States. Almost anyone can be a bounty hunter. It is a dangerous and difficult job, but the rewards are usually great. Before becoming a bounty hunter, however, take a moment to look at the laws surrounding this practice.

The simply definition of a bounty hunter is someone who tracks down and captures fugitives in exchange for a fee (the “bounty”). Bounty hunters sometimes are called bail agents, bail officers, or fugitive recovery officers. They are not affiliated with the government or police, but are rather private citizens looking to make money by tracking down criminals.

Bounty hunters are most commonly employed by bail bondsman. A bail bondsman is the person who puts up collateral during a court case so that the accused doesn’t have to remain in jail while awaiting trial. If the accused then flees instead of showing up in court, the bail bondsman has to pay the complete amount of the bail, and the money will go to tracking down the fugitive once again. The more high-profile the case, the more horrible the crime, and the more the criminal is likely to flee, the higher the bail will be set. Although on small matters bail may only be a few hundred dollars, in large cases, the bail may be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Therefore, it is in the bondsman’s best interest to find the fugitive before the bail is due. A bounty hunter does just that, usually for a percentage of the total bail money. They sign a contract in order to attempt to find the fugitive. However, it is important to note that a bounty hunter’s services are never guaranteed. Some people simply cannot be found, especially if they’ve managed, somehow, to leave the country. If the fugitive cannot be found, it is still the bail bondsman’s responsibility to pay the full bail amount.

The laws surrounding bounty hunting vary from state to state. In many cases, a bounty hunter doesn’t need any formal training or licensing. They simply need a sanction from a bail bondsman. In other states, bounty hunters must undergo training or background checks. Some states even require the bounty hunter to be licensed as a peace officer, security officer, or private investigator. A few states have outlawed bounty hunter altogether, unless the fugitive has fled charges in another state. In short, before becoming a bounty hunter, learn the hunting laws in your state and in the surrounding states.

Bounty hunting is both physically and legally dangerous. There are no protections for injuries caused by bounty hunters, and mistaking someone for your mark could put you in tons of trouble. In addition, following a fugitive to Canada or Mexico and apprehending him or her there could lead to charges of kidnapping, as these countries do not legalize bounty hunting. While there can be big payoffs, there are also big risks. Make sure you’re ready for these responsibilities before agreeing to track down a fugitive.