Many people ask the question “How do I get the cheapest bail bond?”
For many people, a discount bail bond may seem like an attractive prospect. If a court offers you bail that amounts to several thousand dollars and yet your bondsman says that all that you need to do is to slip them a couple of hundred and you will be fine, you may well be tempted to do what the bondsman asks.
However, purchasing discount bail bonds may not just be risky, it can sometimes be downright illegal. You are worried about breaking the bank, but you may well end up breaking the law when you purchase overly cheap bail bonds.
When is it permitted to discount a bail bond?
Almost all bail bonds are in some sense discounted. People can rarely pay the entirety of their bail money up front and so they turn to a bail bondsman (or ‘bail agent’) and pay the bondsman a fraction of the bail price. The bondsman keeps this money and uses their wider reserves of cash as a surety that you will turn up in court as promised. You show up at court, the bondsman keeps their money, and everything runs smoothly. This is legal and normal practice.
However, when bail bonds are hugely discounted, you may well be straying into an illegal or unethical territory. Usually, you will pay your bail agent around 10 percent of the bail fee set by the court. However, an unscrupulous bail agent may try to entice you with an offer of bail bonds priced at 5 percent or less. At this point, you should become suspicious.
The whole picture
Bail bonds priced significantly lower than 10 percent of the total bail money are usually not just affordable bail bonds: they are usually part of a wider picture of unethical and illegal practices on the part of the bail agent.
For instance, it is often a condition of accepting a cheap deal like this one that you refer other prisoners on to the same unscrupulous bail company. If you fail to do so, you may be hit with financial penalties that make you wish you had just paid the ten percent bail bond rate in the first place.
Another practice associated with overly cheap bail bonds is cold calling – and this is illegal. Bail agents may call up homes and ask ‘do you have anyone in prison here who needs a cheap bail deal?’ Or, they may scour court registers to find out who has been recently arrested, call those people’s homes, and feign concern as they try and broker a deal for a ‘cheap’ bond.
What may look like a bargain bail bond on paper can actually become very expensive when you look at the fine print. This is because unethical bail agents often charge hefty amounts of interest on the bail bonds they offer you. If you are unable to pay any of their financial penalties, or if you default on any of the conditions of your bail for any reason, they may take advantage of this to charge you more and more interest.
The bottom line
If a bail bond deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Stay the right side of the law and only buy bail bonds from reputable bail agents.