Bail Bonds and Collateral


Having to pay bail is never a welcoming experience. It’s hard-earned money that goes to pay for (what is hopefully) a simple mistake, and the last thing you want to do is part with it. In some cases, people who are arrested can’t afford to pay their bail, often due to financial troubles or the severity of their crime prompting a bail that’s well out of the range of what most people can afford. Thankfully, there are alternatives.

If you’re not lucky enough to get the bail amount reduced or waived, sometimes offering up collateral in place of or with bail money is the only option (unless you want to spend the night in prison). In the world of bail bonds, collateral is simply an asset used in place of money to ensure your release. It typically takes the form of property or, in some cases, smaller, yet valuable items such as jewelry.

In the event that you’re putting up a house or car as collateral, you’re often required to sign over the deed or title to the court, who will keep it on hand. Like normal bail, this ensures that you will return for the court hearing. You will receive back all items placed up for collateral at the conclusion of the trial, if you’re deemed innocent, or the charges are dropped. If you should fail to show up for the court hearing, the court or bail bond agent, if you used one, will return to collect the item or property.

If going through a bail bondsman to secure your release, you often have to pay a premium to the company for them to front the bail money. If you can’t afford to pay the premium in cash, part of the collateral can be held by the bond company in its place. You should always discuss this with your bail bond agent to ensure you know what’s at stake.

In the end, collateral is often just as good as money, especially if you’re a little low on cash at the time of your arrest. Presuming you don’t go to jail, you will get all of your property back, less a premium to your bond agent if necessary.

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Posted on November 20, 2012 at 9:00 AM