Bailing someone out of jail? Before you sign any contracts, know what you’re dealing with first. There are many elements and key outlines that go into working with a bail bond company and cosigning to get someone out of jail. ABC Bail Bonds has been serving the Houston area for over 25 years, both bailing inmates out of jail and lending important information to all Harris County residents. Here’s what you should know before cosigning or working with a bail bond company.

Related: These Are the Qualities of a Good Bail Bondsman

First, What is a Bail Bond?

So, what is a bail bond and how do you bail someone out of jail? Getting a bail bond is essentially offering a certain amount of money—whether cash, property, or surety bond—to get someone out of jail and make sure they show up to their court dates. Typically, this is around 10% of the total bail for the defendant in jail.

Any person, defendant or inmate can post their own bond. If, however, the defendant can’t afford to bond themselves out of jail, any other person 18 or older can post the bond for them with a bail bond company.

What—or Who—is a Bail Bondsman?

A bondsman, or bail bonds agent, is a person licensed by the Texas Department of Insurance to sell bonds. A bail bond is an agreement is backed by an insurance company contract, signed by you and the bondsman on behalf of the insurance company. Only a person licensed by the Texas Department of Insurance can post a bond.

Why hire a bondsman? It’s simple. If you don’t have the money to cover the full bail amount, you can choose to pay only 10% and release the inmate from jail.

What Happens if the Defendant Doesn’t Show Up to Court?

When someone cosigns or works with a bail bond company, they pay a certain fee upfront. This is typically 10% of the total bond amount, and allows the bondsman to pay the entire bail amount for the defendant and get them out of jail. 

However, the cosigner (you) must sign a contract in case the defendant doesn’t show up to court. Essentially, you become responsible for the defendant (and the total bail) should they flee. This contract ensures that the bail bondsman will get their money back if the defendant never shows up to court or can’t be found.

What to Expect When Working With a Bail Bond Company

After paying the 10% and signing the bail bond contract, the defendant will be released from jail. At that point, the co-signer (you) is responsible for making sure the defendant appears for their court dates and meets all their legal requirements.

However, you have certain rights and protections as well. For instance, the co-signer can request certain outlines be met before co-signing, such as requesting the defendant complete a drug program or have a mental health evaluation.

Also see: Surety Bonds: The Breakdown

Can You Back Out of a Bail Bond?

The short answer is yes. If you become uncomfortable with the defendant’s actions, you can ask the bail bond company to cancel the bond—returning the defendant to jail. If the defendant decides to run away or doesn’t show up to court, you can contact the bail bond company and let them know—including where the defendant is—and they’ll pick them up and take them to jail.

As a cosigner, you have a lot of responsibilities. As we mentioned earlier, if the defendant misses a court date, you may be expected to either help the bondsman or bail bond company find the defendant, or pay the entire amount of the bond if the defendant isn’t found.

ABC Bail Bonds

Before signing any contracts or promissory notes, make sure you read them entirely. Carefully go over every term and obligation until you understand them before signing the contract. As an added tip, it’s always good practice to keep a copy of each document for your records.

ABC Bail Bonds is the most trusted and well-established bail bond company in Houston, Texas. We’ve been releasing Harris County inmates out of jail for over 25 years. To learn more about bail bonds or to bail someone out of jail today, contact us.