Help! How Do I Bail Someone Out of Jail?

Posted by Megan GroutMar 03, 20240 Comments

Bond Out of Jail
Bailing Someone Out of Jail

Help! How Do I Bail Someone Out Of Jail in Georgia?

     Finding out a friend or loved one has been arrested can be a scary and confusing experience. You want to help them immediately but you don't know where to start. Let me give you a roadmap on some of the things you need to do to get them out. 

Confirm Where They Are Being Held

     Many people don't realize that there can be many different jails in the same geographical area. So, the first thing you need to establish is where your friend of family member is being held. Are they in a county jail? Or are they in a city jail? Also, some cities share jail space with other cities. So even if the person was arrested in City A, they may be taken to a City B for custody. If you aren't sure, you need to Google each of the possible jails in your area and call them. They should be able to tell you over the phone whether someone is an inmate there. Some jails have good websites that you can search as well. However, keep in mind that when someone is arrested, it takes some time for them to be processed into the system so their information may not show up online right away.

Confirm Whether They Have A Bond Set 

     When someone is arrested, they don't necessarily have a bond set right away. You will first need to understand some of the terms that are used. The court "sets a bond" when they decide that a person will be permitted to be released if a particular amount of money is put up for their release. "Bond  Amount" is the amount of money that the court sets to allow that release. For certain less serious crimes, a bond may be set automatically, or within just a few hours of the person being in custody. If a crime is more serious, it may be that a judge does not initially want to set a bond. If the judge doesn't set a bond right away, you will likely need to hire a lawyer to get the bond hearing process started. You can usually get information about if a bond is set, and for how much, by calling the jail where the person is being held or checking the jail's online website.

Determine How You Are Going to Pay The Bond

     If a bond has been set, there are different ways to get them out.

     1) Cash Bond. This means someone pays the entire amount of the bond upfront. If the bond is $10,000, then the entire $10,000 (plus additional fees that are added to all bonds) must be paid upfront. This money that is paid is called the "Bail." Most people use the words bond and bail interchangeably, but technically "bail" means the money itself that is put up.

     You should also know that most jails do not accept credit cards or personal checks for this. Usually, payment has to be made in cash, certified check or money order. Once the criminal case is completed, the entire cash bond is returned. (This means the case must have a final disposition - either by a plea, dismissal or jury verdict.) Remember that some cases can take years to resolve. Also, if the person being bonded out decides to skip going to court when required, the entire amount of that bond may be forfeited.  

     2) Use a Bondsman. This is a very popular choice for most people, because most people aren't in a financial position to put up a huge amount of cash all at once. A bail bondsman is a company that is licensed to bond people in a particular county. I tell people to estimate paying about 13% of the bond amount. The key difference between this and a cash bond is you do not get the money that you paid to the bondsman back. It is non-refundable and the price you pay for using the bondsman's services. Once you pay the bondsman, the bondsman then posts the entire amount of the bond to the court in order to get the person released from custody. You can find many bondsman options by Googling ones that are located within the county where the arrest happened. They are usually available 24/7 to answer your calls.

     The good thing about bondsman is that they are much more affordable than paying a cash bond, and some even offer payment plans on the amount that they charge. But keep in mind that bondsman are now on the hook for the entire amount of the bond with the court. If you use a bondsman to get out of jail and then you miss court, the court can take the entire amount of the bond from the bondsman. So, bondsman are highly motivated to make sure you come to court as required and they will go look for you if you don't.  Also, the person who paid the bondsman has co-signed for the bond. That means the person who paid the bondsman signed a contract that guarantees they will pay the bondsman back the entire amount of the bond if the person charged with the crime doesn't show up for court and the bond is forfeited. The bondsman can come after the co-signor for payment of what the bondsman lost when the bond was forfeited.

     Because it is a risk for bondsman to put up money in this way, they are careful with who they are willing to bond out. They will usually want information on this person's criminal history, residence, and employment status. They will also usually require a co-signor that lives in Georgia, among other things. For people who live out of the state of Georgia and don't have anyone in Georgia who is willing to co-sign for them, it can be challenging to get a bail bondsman to help them.

     3) Property Bond. The third option is the least common way to get someone out on bond: by putting up property instead of money. First, you must fully own the property which you are using for the bond. The property required is usually real estate, but it does not have to be. By putting up property, you are using that property as collateral against the bond. If the person who is charged with a crime does not come to court and the bond is forfeited, the bonding company has the right to go after that property to seek compensation for the money that which was forfeited to the court. 

     Property bonds are complicated and can take a long time to set up. The bonding company has to do much more research before the bond can be put in place. So, it can take days or weeks for that to get done. Because of that, we usually only see property bonds in serious cases with very high bond amounts.  

     Also, keep in mind that immigration and other federal issues will have different bonding concerns. I'm not going to cover those here. If you have concerns about a federal or immigration case, call a bondsman to see what options you may have.

Can Anyone Bond A Person Out?

     You do not have to be a relative in order to bond someone out. However, you do need to be at least 18 years old. Also, you need to understand that bonds are not just an amount of money. When the court signs a bond, that bond will probably have other rules (conditions) that the person being bonded out must follow. Sometimes, those conditions include not having any contact with victims or witnesses in the case. If you are considered by the court to be a victim or a witness, while you are allowed to pay the money to get them out, you cannot be around them when they are released. Otherwise, this could be considered a bond violation for them and can result in them being placed back in the jail due to a bond violation. It's important to keep that in mind when planning to bond someone out of jail - where will they be able to live? Who is allowed to even pick them up from the jail? You want to be sure you follow all the bond conditions exactly. 

Is There A Way to Get Out of Jail Without Paying Any Money?

     In some situations, judges are willing to allow what Georgia now calls UJR Bonds. UJR bond stands for "unsecured judicial release" and these bonds were commonly called signature bonds or "OR" (Own Recognizance) bonds. Basically, it means the judge is trusting that the person will come to court for his case and doesn't need to have any kind of money to secure that promise. The judge only asks for a signature from the person being bonded out. UJR bonds are limited to only certain kinds of cases, and are not common in felonies. Also, UJR bonds often still come with bond restrictions, meaning that the person being released is still required to do certain things (report to a pretrial supervisor, get mental health or drug treatment, etc.). So if those things aren't done, or the person doesn't come to court as required, the UJR bond can be revoked just like any other bond. 

     If you are confused about a situation with regard to bond, you should not hesitate to call a criminal defense lawyer. Lawyers that are experienced handling criminal matters in a particular county are very good at knowing the fastest way to get a bond set up for your friend or family member. If you have questions about bonds in Cobb County, or need a recommendation on who to call for a bond, please call me at 404-904-2862.