If you have ever been arrested, you know it is never an enjoyable experience. However, the knowledge that a judge will set your bail swiftly so that you can bond out quickly will help make the situation easier to tolerate. Of course, a certain percentage of the residents and visitors to Arkansas do not understand how the state’s bail bond system works. That unfamiliarity can lead to missteps and confusion. In this post, we’re going to lay out everything you need to know about Arkansas bail bonds, bail bond companies, and the rules and regulations that govern the bail bond industry in Arkansas.
One key fact that might surprise many people is that all bail bond companies in Arkansas are required to follow the same rules and regulations when it comes to fees, charges, and rates. This means the total cost of a bail bond with one company in Arkansas is going to be exactly the same as that from another. No bail bond company may charge a higher premium. No bail bond company may charge a lower premium. The premium every Arkansas bail bond company must charge is 10% of the face amount of the bail bond.
So, if someone had bail set at $1,000, the bond premium would be $100. If the bail bond was set at $10,000, the bond premium would be $1,000. The minimum bond amount in Arkansas is $50. If the bond amount is $500 or less, the bond premium will always be $50. For example, the premium would be $50 for a $500 bond but also $50 for a $200 bond.
Even though Arkansas law requires every bail bond company must charge the exact same amount for a bail bond, that law does not prohibit Arkansas bail bond companies from financing different amounts. Some bail bond companies might request a lower or higher amount down depending on the charge and risk of the bail bond.
Many people are surprised when the total amount they have to pay an Arkansas bail bond company is more than the 10% premium. Understanding the various charges and fees involved with the bonding process can ensure that you’re not caught unaware. In Arkansas, $80 must be added to the 10% premium to arrive at the total cost of the bond. This $80 in fees attached to every bail bond is broken down as follows:
As you can see, there are four fees, each $20, which means that you will need to add $80 to the 10% total to determine what you’ll actually be paying an Arkansas bail bonding company. All of these will need to be paid when the bond is posted.
While some criminal charges may result in a relatively low bond amount, some situations may require a high amount of bail. In situations where the amount of the bond is beyond what an incarcerated person or their family can pay, some Arkansas bail bond companies can offer solutions to make things simpler. These can include the following:
Collateral can be a wide range of things. For instance, your personal home can be used as collateral. In this case, the Arkansas bond company you choose to work with will put a lien on the property for the amount of the bond.
You can also use vehicles – your car, boat, even personal watercraft like jet skis can work if they are of sufficient value. Note that in the case of cars, trucks, motorhomes, and other similar vehicles, you need to have a free and clear title or the bond agency won’t accept it. That means a car that’s not paid off won’t be usable. The title must also be in your name or of a party signing the bail bond, meaning the cosigner or the defendant.
Finally, other types of collateral can be used. Jewelry and valuable watches can work if they are of sufficient value or if they can be combined to reach the value of the bond. Works of art and other valuables can also be used. Make sure to discuss your options with the bonding company.
There is no set time for the bail bond process to take, as there are several things that have to happen first. After the arrest, you’ll need to be processed. In the case of a minor crime, there is usually a preset bond fee that can be paid right after processing.
In those cases, you will most likely be released within a couple of hours (or as little as half an hour depending on the situation). Note that if you’re arrested late at night, chances are good that you’ll need to wait until morning for release even if the charge is minor. The same thing applies to arrests made over the weekend.
For serious felonies where there isn’t a bail amount set, you’ll need to be arraigned. A judge will determine whether bail will be offered or denied (it’s rare, but it happens), and how much the bond should be. From that point, you can work with an Arkansas bail bond company to secure your release.
It’s important to understand that the bonding company works with you contingent on your agreement to appear in court. If you do not uphold that obligation, any collateral put up for bond may be forfeited.
For instance, suppose you put up the title to your car as collateral, but then fail to appear in court. The bond company may repossess the car and sell it for the amount you owe them. The same thing applies to any other collateral, whether that’s heirloom jewelry, a motorhome, or your house.
If you fail to appear in court, there is a strong possibility that whatever collateral you put up with the bond company will be repossessed.
Failing to appear for court is one of the worst things a defendant can choose to do. Once the court date is missed, a judge will issue a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest. The charge listed on that warrant will be for the criminal charge of “Failure to Appear.” This is a whole new criminal charge separate and distinct from the original charge for which the defendant was supposed to appear. After this happens your bondsman, under the direction of the court, is tasked with apprehending the person and surrendering them back into the custody of the court.
The best advice here is this – appear in court. If you’re not going to be able to, call the bail bond agent to discuss the situation with them. Most bail bondsman have great contacts with the court so that your court date may be rescheduled in order to keep you from having a warrant issued for failure to appear. As long as you stay in contact with your bondsman, they will know you’re not trying to skip town.
The bail bonding process in Arkansas is pretty consistent across the board. First, there’s the arrest. Second, you’re processed. In some cases, you can then immediately make a phone call, either to a family member, friend or directly to a bail bond company. Note that you are allowed to bond yourself out of jail in Arkansas, so if you have the cash or collateral, it’s entirely possible to handle the situation with one phone call to a bond company, without any need to involve other people.
Once bail is set, either as a preset amount during processing or by a judge during your arraignment, you can then pay it. If you have the cash, you can pay the full amount to the court, which will hold it until you go to court. However, using an Arkansas bail bond company that employs licensed bail bondsman is much cheaper. Remember, a bond company only charges 10% of the bond. The court requires the defendant to put up the full amount of the bond.
Once the bond has been set, you’ll need to contact an Arkansas bail bond company to begin the process of securing your release from jail. Remember, every bond company must charge the same amount. It will be 10% of your bond amount, plus the $80 in associated fees as previously discussed in this guide.
Once you contact the bond company, you or your representative (family member or friend) will be interviewed. The point here is for the bond agent to get a feel for the situation and any risk of the defendant failing to appear. The bail bond business is inherently risky. If the defendant bonds out of jail and then skips going to the court date, the bonding company is responsible for the full amount of bail to the county court.
Although there is no difference in terms of fees and cost in the industry, it would be wise to research all of the Arkansas bail bond companies so that you can pick the one that would is best for you.
While there’s a lot to know about the bail bond process, one thing to remember is that these professionals are there to help you. Their sole purpose for existing is to help people who have been arrested gain some sense of normalcy in their lives and ensure that you don’t have to wait for your court date in jail. Once you’re out of jail, you can take an active strategy to plan your legal defense, stop missing work, and go about your life as usual.