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  • What Are Bail Bonds and How Do They Work?

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    what are bail bondsIf a loved one or a friend is under arrest and held in jail, you probably want to get that person out as soon as possible.

    That means gathering up funds to post a bail bond.

    However, a bond amount could be several thousand dollars or more.

    Sadly, most people do not have access to a substantial amount of money in a short amount of time.

    Engaging the services of a bail bondsman is better than letting your relative or friend sit in jail until their case is resolved—which could be weeks, months, or even years in some cases. 

    If you don’t have the money to bond your loved one out, you are probably wondering, What are bail bonds, and how do they work?

    An experienced New Mexico criminal defense attorney can work with you to help get your loved one or friend out of jail and back home where they belong.

    At the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, our lawyers fight vigorously to get our clients released without a financial obligation. However, some judges will set a cash bail.

    In that case, we will explain how the bail process works and offer you advice on engaging a bail bond company. 

    What Is a Bail Bond?

    The idea of bail dates back several centuries to Anglo-Saxon England. Courts use monetary incentives to compel a person to appear in court.

    The logic behind this rule is simple. It’s safe to say that most people do not want to lose something valuable like money or property.

    Therefore, courts attach a monetary value that must be paid to secure the release of someone charged with a crime. The jail releases the person when someone turns the money over to the jail or court.

    The person who posted the bail money will get it back at the end of the case if the accused attends court as ordered. If the defendant misses one or more of their court dates, then the person who posted the bail loses their money. 

    Bail Reform in New Mexico

    Using money to secure the attendance of people in court has fallen out of favor recently.

    Even in New Mexico, the state’s new bail rules dictate that judges should order cash bail in rare circumstances.

    The bail rules say that every person has a right to pretrial release and to appear based on their own promise to do so. Courts refer to this as being “released on your own recognizance” as opposed to posting bail.

    Despite that presumption, some situations require the court to impose additional conditions of release.

    The new bail rules indicate that the judge should impose the least restrictive measures possible to ensure that the person comes back to court.

    A judge could order the person to execute an unsecured appearance bond in an established amount of money instead of requiring a cash deposit.

    Additionally, the court may order the accused to submit to conditions of release like court monitoring and drug testing to make sure that the person returns to court to face their charges. The conditions of release must also ensure the public’s safety.

    Despite the recent changes, courts still use cash bail. A judge can order a person to post a bail bond to ensure the person’s presence in court if the person is a flight risk. 

    Bail Bonds System in New Mexico

    When a person is arrested, the police bring that person to the local jail or detention center for booking. The booking officer takes biographical information from the arrested person, fingerprints them, and runs a criminal background check.

    Then officials at the jail determine when the person under arrest has to appear in court. A prison or court official will also set the appropriate bond amount. 

    The person has a choice to make at that time. A person under arrest can either wait in jail until the first court appearance or get out of jail by posting a cash bond. The jail will release the accused into the custody of the person who posted the stated bail amount.

    Any bail money collected goes into the court’s depository and stays there until the case ends. The person who posted the bail amount can collect the bail minus any court fees when the case concludes.

    The person who posted the bail—sometimes called a surety—loses the money when the accused fails to come to their scheduled court appearances.

    That being said, if missing the court date was unavoidable or excusable for some reason, the defendant’s attorney can work to have the judge reinstate the bond.

    Engaging a Bail Bond Company

    A person held on cash bail can engage a bail bonds company to post the bail.

    New Mexico law allows a bail bond company to post bail to free the person held in custody. The law sets limits on excessive bail bonds charges & fees.

    The bail bond fee is 10% of the total bail amount. Thus, for a $1,000 bail, you pay the bail bonds company $100. They keep that fee and pay the total amount to the court. 

    Bail bond companies often look to another person to co-sign the bond. The co-signer is financially liable to the bail bond company for the total amount if the person does not appear in court.

    The bail bond company can also engage a bounty hunter to capture and bring the person back to court. If successful, the co-signer will be liable for the fees associated with the person’s capture instead of the full bail amount.

    A co-signer can pledge money or property as collateral to compensate the bail bond company if the person defaults. 

    New Mexico closely regulates the bail bond industry. All bail bondsmen must have a current license and are subject to specific ethical requirements.

    They can lose their license if they violate any New Mexico bail bond licensing law provision.

    Contact Our New Mexico Attorneys to Learn More

    If you need to discuss anything related to bail bonds, please feel free to call our office. When you call us, you can make an appointment for a free consultation.

    If you decide to hire us, you will benefit from having lawyers with over 20 years of experience at your disposal.

    We have been protecting the rights of the criminally accused since 1997, and we assure you that no one will work harder for you than we will.