When you bail a friend out of jail using a bail bondsman, you take on special obligations and liabilities. As the person who paid the fee and secured the bail bond, you are known as the indemnitor. You sign a contract with the bail bondsman agreeing to take full responsibility for repaying the bond if your friend fails to appear at his or her court hearing.
You'll need to offer up collateral to guarantee the bond – this is often in the form of your home or your car. You'll also have to provide the bail bondsman with information about your friend, including any close relationships that he or she has, in case your friend decides to avoid going to court. Since becoming the indemnitor of a bail bond puts you at serious financial risk, it's important to ensure that your friend attends every court hearing until a verdict is made or the case is dismissed. Here's what you need to do in order to protect yourself and make sure your friend doesn't skip bail.
Personally Help Your Friend to Attend Court Hearings
Since you're taking on the legal responsibility for repaying the bond if your friend intentionally misses court dates, you should take the responsibility of making sure that your friend gets to court on every assigned date. Take off of work, if necessary, and drive your friend personally to court on the date of the hearing. This is especially important if your friend does not have reliable transportation – making it as easy to get to court as possible increases the chances that your friend will attend. Although it may seem inconvenient, the amount of financial liability you're taking by bailing your friend out of jail makes it necessary to become personally involved.
Convince Your Friend to Surrender After a Missed Court Hearing
If your friend does miss a court hearing, you aren't immediately in financial danger. Courts allow a short period of time for your friend to surrender to the court or for the bail bondsman to hire a fugitive investigator to find your friend. Most bondsmen will charge you extra fees to cover the cost of hiring an investigator – it's best to avoid this situation if at all possible by not missing court dates in the first place or convincing your friend to surrender to the court system willingly.
Cooperate With the Bond Company and Fugitive Investigator
When the bond company hires a fugitive investigator to find your friend after he or she has skipped bail, they will ask you questions about where your friend may be hiding and which friends or family members may be providing shelter. It's important to cooperate with the bond company during this time – you're helping your friend by concealing information, as skipping bail will lead to additional charges on top of your friend's original charge. Eventually, the court system will seize all the money that the bond company paid to secure the bond. At this point, the bondsman will liquidate your collateral in order to recoup the money – you can lose your home or your car, and the bondsman may file a civil suit against you for the remaining amount of the bond. In order to protect against this, you need to help the bondsman as much as possible.
All in all, you take on a large amount of liability when you bail out a friend. It's best to only secure bail bonds for friends that you fully trust – don't secure a bond for anyone that shows even a slight chance of skipping bail and hiding from the legal system. For close friends that are trustworthy, however, there is little risk in bailing them out of jail. The most severe penalties are reserved for when your friend intentionally goes on the run and avoids justice. Visit a site like http://www.bradsbailbonds.com for more help.