Nothing is worse than the feeling of helplessness that goes along with being arrested for a criminal offense. The experience can be overwhelming both for the person who has been arrested, as well as their friends and loved ones. Almost certainly the first question for friends and family will be: “How do I get them out of jail?”
The problem can be even bigger for arrested individuals who live out of state (students, tourists, business people, convention goers, etc.), as in many cases the standard practice of commercial bonding is limited to people with substantial ties to the area.
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It is important to get a qualified criminal defense attorney involved as soon as possible after arrest to help protect the rights of the arrested person, as well as to help friends and family navigate the complexities of post-arrest court proceedings and the procedures associated with posting bail.
In Louisiana there are several ways to go about posting bond:
- In Louisiana lawyers are allowed to request PERSONAL RECOGNIZANCE releases for their clients from judges and other elected officials for specified non-violent offenses. Most typical non-violent cases you will be inquiring about fall into this category. It requires merely that a defendant sign a promise to return to court for trial whenever notified, but does not require posting any money either with the court or with a bail bondsman. So it is quite possible that I can help you get your friend of loved on out of jail without needing to involve a bail bondsman or other surety agent. This can help save substantial time and money.
- You can post the entire amount of the bond in cash with the court. This, not surprisingly, is know as a CASH BOND. At the conclusion of the case, you will have the entire amount of the bond you posted refunded to you.
- You can contact a licensed bail bondsman to post a COMMERCIAL SURETY BOND, more commonly known as a bail bond. This service is helpful if you cannot afford to post the entire amount of the bond in cash. For a fee (usually around 13% of the total bond), a bail bondsman will post the total amount of the bond for you. This fee is non-refundable.
- You may post a PROPERTY BOND. The court allows real property to be posted as bond, so long as there is sufficient equity in the proposed property to cover the full amount of the bond. The court holds and records a mortgage against the property in the amount of the bond, and cancels the mortgage only after the conclusion of the case. There is sometimes a fee associated with a property bond (to cover the cost of filing and recording the mortgage).
- A judge may grant a PERSONAL SURETY BOND (PSBU). This is similar to an ROR bond, except it is a signature bond by someone other than the defendant who pledges (but does not post) the full amount of the bond. Typically a hearing is held where the person signing the bond must establish that they have sufficient assets to cover the bond amount should the defendant forfeit the bond by failing to appear at court. If the bond is forfeited, the court can demand the amount of the bond from the signer of the bond, otherwise no money is ever required. In Orleans Parish there is a $200.00 fee for a PSBU.
An experienced attorney can:
- Insure that a bond is set in a timely manner
- Insure that bond is set at an appropriate amount
- Make a motion to reduce a bond that has been set too high
- Recommend a reputably bonding company to post bond
- Assist in the possible release of a defendant on their own recognizance
The possibility of obtaining an unsecured personal recognizance bond can be especially helpful for arrested individuals who live out of state, as in many cases the standard practice of commercial bonding is limited to people with substantial ties to the area. That is, if you are not from the New Orleans area most bail bond companies will not offer to bond you out of jail. That means that in many cases your only option would be to post the full cash bond, which can be prohibitively expensive, unless you secure the services of a lawyer.