The easiest way to bail someone out of jail is with cash, though this doesn’t always work and leads us to the topic of discussion: bail bond collateral. In most cases, a surety bond is the way to go when bailing someone out of jail. A surety bond is when you pay 10 percent of the bond amount to the bond agency (also called a “premium”) and the agency’s insurance company backs the rest. When you buy a surety bond, you also have to have enough collateral to make up for the other 90 percent of the bond in case the accused skips out on a court date.
Surety bonds are not the only option, however. For instance, property (or land liens) can be used to bail someone out of jail. In the case that the defendant skips out on a court date, though, the court can foreclose the property or the bail agency can take ownership of it. The same goes for homes, too, though most agencies require homes to equal more than 150 percent of the bail amount in equity.
Back on the topic of cash, you are able to use your bank account balance as collateral. You can often use credit cards and checks to pay the bail amount in full, though all three payment options are tricky. Why? Because, throughout the trial, your funds are tied up as collateral and you cannot access them. This is why so many people use alternative bail options, more of which are listed below.
Another common alternative to using cash is to sign your car over to the bail agency. However, you do need to be aware that cars, like cash, are “tied up” during the hearing process. If the defendant you bailed out skips out on a court date or if you don’t pay the premium to the bail agency, the car in question may be taken by the bail agency.
Other valuables, or pawnable items like jewelry, gold, diamonds, and rings can be used as collateral. Often, jewelry is used as collateral when the bail amount is low. And while the valuables may have sentimental and monetary value, losing them (in the worst case scenario) is probably easier to manage than losing your car or home.
In the same vein, lots of bail agencies will accept televisions, electronics, instruments, and other possessions as collateral. Your best course of action here is to contact a reputable bail agency to see what you can and can’t use as collateral. Fortunately, California residents don’t have to look too far when it comes to finding an expert. Bail Hotline, an agency with more than 25 locations throughout the state, has agents standing by ready and willing to answer any and all questions you have about the bail process, collateral, bonds, and getting someone out of jail.