Information Obtained From Washington State Department of Licensing Website:
When is a bail bond needed?
When a person is arrested on a criminal charge they may be held for trial, unless they furnish the required bail as ordered by the court. A bail bond includes any contract guaranteeing the attendance in court of any person arrested or confined due to an actual or alleged violation of the law.
How to bail a person (the defendant) out of jail:
Depending on your relationship to the defendant, it is important to understand that you may be very worried and under stress because of the arrest. Take the time to fully understand the bail bond contract and know your rights. Understand what you are promising.
There are two different types of suppliers of bail bonds. One is if you have cash for the full bail amount, you can go directly to the court and pay the court clerk. In this case, the bond payer gets all the money back if the defendant appears as promised to the court hearing(s), unless the court at the time of setting the bond states that part of the cash can be applied to legal financial obligations, then the cash can be so applied.
The other option and most commonly done is to contact a bail bond agency. Bail bond agencies charge a fee for their services. Only a person holding a bail bond agent license issued by Washington State Department of Licensing may sell or negotiate a bail bond. You have a right to ask to see the agent's license.
What does the bail agent do for the consumer?
- Arrange for the defendant to be out of custody until his/her appearance in court until the matter is resolved.
- Upon release from jail, provide the defendant the details of the bail bond transaction, etc. as required by the Department of Licensing regulations.
- See that the defendant makes the required court appearances.
- Assist in the location of the defendant should he/she fail to appear for a court date.
- Appear before the court regarding the bail bond when necessary.
- Hold any collateral in a trustworthy capacity as required by law.
The bail agreement/contract is important to understand before you agree to be the indemnitor. When a bail bond is issued, the defendant agrees to appear in court at the designated time and date. Part of your obligation as the indemnitor, as well as the defendant's obligation, is to keep the bail agent advised of any changes in the defendant's contact, address or employment information until the bail bond has been exonerated.
What happens if the defendant fails to appear in court as required?
If the defendant fails to appear at the court appointment, the bond amount becomes payable and is forfeited as a penalty. You as the indemnitor may lose your collateral in addition to reimbursement of reasonable and necessary expenses incurred by the bail agent caused by a breach of bail agreement. These would include travel expenses, guard fees, telephone calls and associated costs necessary to have the person re-arrested for failing to appear, as required, in court. It is very important that consumers read and fully understand their responsibilities set forth in the bond agreement including forfeiture of the bond amount and reimbursement of associated costs. This is particularly true when title to real property has been provided as collateral. You may find yourself in a position where your car or home is taken from you.
You are entitled to a copy of the signed agreement/contract.
The bail bond agreement runs for the life of the case that is being bonded. The premium is normally paid at the time the agreement is signed and each anniversary of the bond. The premium is not refundable and is fully earned regardless of the outcome of the case.
Disclaimer: Because the court offers many variables based on the individual arrested this summary of how bail works does not include everything that could happen.