[by Ray Hrdlicka, talk show host and publisher of Crime, Justice & America]
Right around now, you’re probably getting a bunch of advice from your fellow arrestees, from your family, from your friends, and maybe even from the deputies. Not all of it will make sense to you, not all of it might pertain to you, and not all of it might be correct – but some of these people have been around the block so listen — and decide what information is useful to you.
However, there are some really important things you must get your head around before you will get yourself out of jail.
1) It will cost you money … now, or later, or both
There are no “Get Out of Jail Free” cards. Bondsmen are in business to earn a living, so you WILL have to pay. The fee is usually 10% (though possibly less if you’ve retained a private attorney, or are in a union, or have real estate as collateral on large bonds). Will you need all the money up-front? Hell no. There are a lot of bondsmen out there looking for your business, so nearly everybody will take payments. Decide what you can afford in payments, keep it short-term, and you probably will walk out of there.
2) You’ll need someone to sign for you
It can be a family member, a friend, your boss… What does this mean, “sign for you”? Simply that that person agrees to be financially responsible for you to show up in court. Think of everybody you know, and have your bondsman talk to them. Remember, bondsmen are the experts here.
3) Money talks — Bullshit walks
The more of the fee you have, the easier it will be to get out. Don’t waste your time, or the bondsman’s time by saying you only have $500 on a $100,000 bond. Get real. Work with your people to get enough money together so that a bondsman will take a chance on you. It will not happen without money. Got all the premium or fee? Pack your stuff because once someone signs for you, you’re outta there.
4) Remember you’re still in custody
When you walk out of jail, after using a bondsman, do you think you’re free? Not! In fact, you are now legally in the custody of the bondsman, and he or she can — and probably will — put you back inside if you lie to them or fail to make your payments. Basically, those actions tell the bondsman that you are somebody not to be trusted. If you can’t make your payments, call the bondsman and you’ll probably be able to work something out. Don’t call them, and you may be back in handcuffs when you’d rather be at the beach.
5) Not all bondsman are created equal.
There are nearly 1900 licensed bondsmen in California. What does that mean to you? Someone will get you out, especially if you keep working with them to get money and a co-signer. Some will take more of a risk than others. Some will take less money as a down payment. Some will visit you, and some will make house calls. The key here is: “Don’t give up.”
Follow these five golden rules and you will be home, kicking back, rather than getting locked down.