Be leery of discount bail bonds companies? How could saving money on a bail bond in Oklahoma be a bad thing? As you will find out you’re probably not saving any money at all and you or a loved one may end up being returned to jail by one of these companies costing you even more hard earned cash.
For those unfamiliar with the bail bonds process, if someone is taken into custody (taken to jail) and given the option to post bail, they can hire a bail bondsman as opposed to paying the full bail amount. The normal rate charged for this service by bail bondsmen is 10% of the bail amount, i.e. if the bail is $5,000 a bondsman would normally charge $500. A number of variables may affect the fee charged by the bondsman and in Oklahoma there are no laws that specify the amount a bondsman may charge or advertise to charge.
Why “discount bail bonds”
The bail industry in Oklahoma is flooded with bail bondsmen and bail bonds companies with approximately 80-100 new bondsmen added each year. The large amount of bondsmen trying to earn enough money to get by creates a very competitive market and many companies are forced to advertise “discount bail bonds”, “5% bail bonds” or even lower.
The problem with “just getting by” and desperation in the bail bond business model is that you need more than enough to just get by in order to remain in business, a company actually needs to turn a profit in order to keep the doors open. Profit is a necessity in the bail industry for two reasons. First, the competitiveness in the bail industry means massive advertising strategies and budgets. Second, people out on bail do flee and bondsmen do have to pay that full bond amount when the forfeiture (when a court date is missed a bond is forfeited) comes due. Companies that pay all their money in forfeitures may be forced to close their doors because they are no longer able to pay their bills and in the case of non-payment of forfeitures, the Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID) which regulates bail bondsmen may actually suspend the bail bonds licenses of the bondsmen working for a company effectively shutting down the business which means back to jail for the people that were out on bond with that company.
Back to jail?
That’s right you could go to jail for no reason at all other than you bonded out with a bad bondsman/bail bonds company which is one of the many reasons it’s important to choose a reputable company.
In Oklahoma bail bondsmen are backed by either professional bondsmen (someone who deposits money with OID and has agents that post bonds under them) or insurance companies that follow the same model. In many cases when these bondsmen or bonds companies they’ve created go under the professional bondsmen or insurance companies hire bail enforcers (bounty hunters) to clean up the mess of the agents they had appointed. Unfortunately this isn’t the only way to be thrown in jail by these companies.
Don’t be fooled!
It is important to not be fooled that the 5% is the only fee you will be paying, that’s just to get started. The other 5% will be due within a certain amount time sometimes only a week or even a few days is given. Further the other 5% may not be all one of these companies wants, they may ask for interest on the payments or a larger percentage of the bond to be paid because they are willing to work out a payment plan. BE SURE TO READ THE FINE PRINT OF THE CONTRACT YOU SIGN AND MOST IMPORTANTLY PAY ATTENTION TO THE PART THAT SAYS IF YOU DO NOT PAY ON TIME YOU GO BACK TO JAIL. Again, you may pay the 5% to get out and if you do not get the rest of the money paid on time then you may be having a visitor from the bondsman or one of their bounty hunters to take you back to jail and then you’re back to square one and that 5% you paid up front only got you out for a few days.
Is working out a payment plan always necessarily a bad thing with a bail bonds company? No, it’s something that almost every bonds company does but basing your business model on it and doing it occasionally when the circumstances call for it are two completely separate things. That’s why it is important to do your research when choosing a bail bonds company and go with one that is reputable and well reviewed so you do not find yourself in a losing situation. The old saying “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” is definitely something that can be used to describe these types of companies, do yourself a favor and just stay away from “discount bail bonds.”