If you are arrested and charged with a crime, you will have to see the judge for a formal arraignment and bail hearing. If the judge grants you bail, you may need some help covering the amount of the bail. Bail bond companies or agencies can help you, but you need to follow a few rules and understand the consequences of skipping court.

Request A Bail Bondsman

If the judge sets your bail and you do not have the money to pay it, you can request that the jail call a bail bond company for you. They will not give you a choice of who to use, but they will get someone to come and talk to you about your options. The bondsman that you meet with does not have to bond you out, so speak to them with respect and be honest when they ask questions. You need them to be comfortable bailing you out, or you may have to sit in jail until your trial. 

Collateral Bonds

The bail bond company may want you to put some form of collateral down before they agree to pay your bond. In some cases, that is an amount of money; in other cases, it could be a car or house as insurance. The collateral needs to be worth at least enough to cover the cost of the bond if you skip or don't show up for court. The bondsman is not going to take the house and let you go; he is going to try and find you first and return you to jail to get his money back. It is harder for him to sell your house or car then return you to jail, and once you are back in custody, the bondsman gets his cash back from the court. 

Bail Enforcement Agents

If you miss court and the bond company can't easily find you, the judge will issue a bench warrant for your arrest, and the bondsman will send your case to a bail enforcement agent. The bond agent will agree to find you and return you to custody for a specific fee. Often the agreement is that the agent does not get paid unless they find you. As you can guess, that makes the bond agent very motivated to find you, so running is not worth it. If you are returned to jail, it is unlikely that any bondsman is going to take a chance on you, even if the judge grants a second bail amount for you.