If you are like most people, you have never been in a position where you’ve been asked to hire a bondsman for someone who is being held at the Santa Rita Jail. No one ever thinks they will find out a friend or loved one has been arrested. This can not only be a complete shock, it can also have you feeling as if your world has been turned upside down. If you have an opportunity to speak with the defendant you will want to do your best to remain calm. Try to grab a pen and a piece of paper in order to take down the following information. You will want to ask how long ago they were arrested, the nature of the crime they are being accused, their booking number of and bail amount, if they know it. If they don’t have all of that immediately available you will want to get the correct spelling of their first and last name as well as their date of birth.
Some people call a bondsman as soon as they learn the defendant has been taken into custody. They want to know if someone can meet them at the jail right away. What they don’t realize is that it will take several hours for the defendant to be “booked in” to the system. The jailer will not allow any bondsman to post a bond until booking is finished.
Clients often why this takes as long as it does. When the defendant arrives to the Santa Rita Jail they will have their photographs taken, their information will be typed into the computer and they will be fingerprinted. They will then need to undergo a national warrant screen and background check. This is done by submitting their prints to the Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ receives thousands of sets of prints each day. It often takes them between 4 and 6 hours to get those results back to the jail.
When you begin the process of hiring a bondsman there are several things you will want to consider before deciding which company to go with. Every bondsman in the state is required to charge the same rate but this does not mean all companies are alike.
- How long have they been open?
- Do they have an accreditation with the Better Business Bureau?
- Does the bondsman hold a valid and up to date bail license?
- Can they help you during off hours, such as nights, weekends and holidays?
- Will you need to go to their office to fill out paperwork?
- Do they offer clients the option of online bail bonds by fax and email for faster service?
- What forms of payment do they take?
- Will you need to pay in cash or do they accept debit and credit cards, Western Union, direct bank deposit or account transfer?
- Can they help you if you live out of town, in another state or are away on vacation?
- Will you need to post collateral?
These are all important things to consider. In addition, many people are concerned about needing to pay the bondsman’s fee up front, in full, before the defendant can get out of jail. Not all companies require this. If you are unable to pay in full ask the person you’re speaking with if they can help you with zero percent bail bonds financing. The terms and conditions for payment plans can vary widely from company to company. Some charge interest, others might require you pay an application fee. Remember, a bail bonds agreement form is a legally binding document. You will want to be sure you understand what you are committing to before you sign any paperwork.
If you have further questions about how bail works or want to learn more about the eligibility requirements for a payment plan, be sure to have your bondsman go over that with you.