Do You Have to Pay Interest on Bail Bonds?

Some people are under the misconception the money paid by bail bondsmen to get defendants released from jail are loans and, thus, think they're required to pay interest on it. That's simply not the case. Bail companies can only charge a flat rate (typically a percentage of the bond amount) for their services. Usually, this is the only cost to clients, but here are two times when you may be required to pay additional fees.

1. Bond Renewal

Although the Constitution provides defendants the right to speedy trials, sometimes cases take years to resolve due to a variety of factors, such as court case loads and the severity of the crime. When a case takes more than a year to complete, the bail bond company may require you to pay the bond fee again. Bail bonds are actually a type of insurance product purchased by the company from an insurance provider. If the defendant's bail gets forfeited by the court for failure to appear, the bondsman would file a claim against the policy to have the insurance provider pay the money demanded by the court.

Like any type of insurance product, these bonds must be renewed yearly, and bail bond companies may pass the cost of this renewal to clients. When working with a bail bondsman, it's important to read the contract to determine if you'll be required to pay a renewal fee on the bond and to make the appropriate preparations if it seems like the defendant's case will take a long time to conclude.

2. Bond Loans

Bail bond fees are only a percentage (anywhere from 5 to 20 percent) of the total bail amount ordered by the court. For instance, if the judge requires the defendant to pay $20,000 to get out of jail and the bail bond company charges 10 percent, your out-of-pocket cost for the service would be $2,000.

Sometimes, though, people can't afford the smaller amounts, especially when bail is set in the hundred of thousands of dollars. In these cases, bail bond companies may offer loans to cover the fee. These are typically standard loans that require credit checks, income verification, and monthly payments. Unlike bail bond fees, though, these loans do charge interest. While these loans offer a convenient way to get the bail fee paid so the defendant can be released from jail, it's critical you evaluate your budget to ensure you can afford to repay the money. Failure to pay on time can lead to negative marks on your credit and other consequences.

To learn more about bail bond fees or get help bailing out of jail, contact a bail bonds company in your area.