The bail bond process can be confusing and stressful, especially at a federal level. Anyone facing a charge in federal court will have several questions about how the process works, especially in regard to bail bonds. For most, the only way to afford the bail set by the judge and avoid spending time in jail is to secure a bail bond from a bail bond agent. Here are a few of the most common questions regarding federal bail bonds.
Can the Bail Bond Agent Negotiate for Me?
No, this is one of the most common myths in the bail bond industry. The only person who can set the bail amount for a federal bail bond is the judge or magistrate. Typically, because of the nature of crimes that are considered federal crimes, the amount of bail will be higher than those set in the state court. Your bail bond agent has no power to negotiate your bail amount to a lower fee on your behalf.
Do Bail Bond Agents Only Accept Cash?
Another common misconception is that a bail bond agent will only accept cash for a bail bond. This is incorrect. Most agents will accept a variety of payment methods including cash, credit card, money orders, and checks. In many cases, the bail bond agent will also accept collateral as payment.
What Types of Collateral Are Acceptable?
Bail bond agents will only accept collateral on a case-by-case basis, but the most common types of collateral accepted include real estate, valuable cars, precious metal, jewelry, any items valuable enough to be pawned such as laptops, computers, gaming consoles, etc. You can also offer more than one type of item as your collateral.
How Much Collateral Do I Need?
In federal cases, you will need more collateral than in-state cases because the bail is higher and the risk of fleeing increases. Bond fees are higher as well. In addition to paying 15% of the bail amount in bond fees rather than the 10% required for state bail, your bail bond agent will also require 150% of the bail amount in order to issue the bond. If you're using real estate as collateral, you will need to be able to cover the bail amount in equity.
How Do I Know if the Bail Bond Agent Is Legit?
Bail bond agents must be licensed and must meet specific requirements as set forth by both the state and federal governments. Never use an unlicensed agent and always ask to see a license.