When a judge grants bail, there are usually conditions. There can be a type of personal bond, which is also called being released on a person's own recognizance. This is like the defendant offering a personal guarantee that they'll re-appear before the judge when asked, with additional criminal charges if they don't. And then there's bail, which is like a financial guarantee. If you have a family member or friend who needs bail and can't afford it (and you or nobody else is able to help), is it worthwhile talking to a bail bondsman for them?

The Amount of Bail 

With bail, the judge decides an amount. Depending on the type of crime, as well as the state where it took place, sometimes only a percentage of the bail must be paid for the defendant to be released. Sometimes it's the whole amount. But often, no matter if it's a percentage or all of it—it's more than your family member or friend can afford, as well as being more than you can help them with.

A Surety Bond

This is where a bondsman can be really useful. They pay what's called a surety bond. The bondsman is paid a smaller (more affordable) percentage of the required bail. This amount must be paid upfront for the bond service. The bondsman then provides the rest of the cash for bail, allowing the defendant to be released until they're scheduled to appear before a judge again.

Bond Fees

The fee charged by a bondsman will depend on the amount of bail the judge has said must be paid, as well as if the case is happening in a state or federal court. Depending on state regulations, fees can be paid with surety instead of money. This surety is the ownership deed of a property or other object (like a vehicle). The defendant signs a deed of trust, allowing the bondsman to take ownership if the outstanding fees are not paid, or if they attempt to flee while out on bail.

Consequences for Violation

If the defendant does try to flee while out on bail, there are serious consequences. The bondsman can start debt collection proceedings to get any unpaid fees from the defendant, creating more legal troubles. They can also contact a bounty hunting service to track down the defendant. This would be a violation of bail conditions, so incarceration is almost certain.

As long as your family member or friends understands their obligations in using the services of a bondsman, it's a way to be released on bail when it wouldn't otherwise be financially possible.