The Ultimate Guide to How Bail Bonds Work in Memphis, Tennessee

An arrest on a criminal charge often occurs when we least expect it.  A defendant is never arrested at his or her convenience.  Until the defendant is released on bond, his or her family, job, and other personal affairs are significantly affected by the defendant being in jail.  With an arrest comes the realization that the future is unknown.  Because of these factors, a defendant in jail, his or her family, and his or her loved ones can feel quite overwhelmed by the process of securing an attorney, using a bail bond company, and resuming his or her normal life outside of jail while they wait for their criminal case to be resolved. 

There are many bail bond companies in Memphis, Tennessee.  While most of the bonding companies in Memphis will be willing to write a bail bond for you, many of them will not take the time to explain the entire Memphis, Tennessee bail bond process.  We want all of our bail bond customers to have a clear understanding of the bonding process in Memphis and what it entails.

What is Bail?

Bail is basically money that you must deposit with the court in which your criminal case exists if you want to remain free from jail while your court case is ongoing.  After you are arrested, a magistrate or judge will set a bail bond amount for your particular case.  Due to the large number of inmates that the Shelby County Jail and other city jails within Shelby County process, it often takes several hours for a magistrate or judge to set a bail bond amount on a new inmate. 

The purpose of bail is to insure that a defendant appears for all of his or her set court appearances on a criminal case.  A bail bond amount can range anywhere from $100 on a misdemeanor charge to hundreds of thousands of dollars on a felony charge.  In order for a defendant to remain free from jail while he or she waits for his case to come to a conclusion, this money must be deposited with the courts by someone on the defendant’s behalf.  As long as the defendant goes to all of his or her court dates, the bail money is returned to the person who paid it after the case comes to a conclusion.  In this situation, this cash bail bond money is returned whether the defendant is found guilty or not.

Most of us do not have the financial resources to deposit such large amounts of bail money with the court.  Fortunately, a bail bond company can help a defendant get out of jail while awaiting trial without having to deposit such large amounts of bail money with the court.  A bail bond company charges certain non-refundable fees to perform this service.

How Much Does a Bail Bond Cost?

The fee that a bail bond company charges are referred to as a bond premium.  After a defendant’s bail bond amount has been set, a family member, friend, co-worker, or other acquaintance can come to our bail bond company and pay the bail bond premium on the defendant’s behalf.  The premium on a bail bond is 10% of the bond amount.  There is also a $25 surcharge and $12 bail tax that is added onto this fee pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated 40-11-316 (a law that states the maximum bail bond premium in the State of Tennessee.)

The following is an example of the bail bond premium, surcharge, and bail tax charged by a bail bond company on a $1,500 bail bond.  This is a common bail bond amount on a misdemeanor charge.

$1,500 bail bond x 10% premium$150
Surcharge $25
Bail Tax$12
Please understand that the $187 bail bond premium, surcharge, and bail tax are not refundable when the case is over.  The bail bond premium, fees and tax has nothing to do with a defendant’s guilt or innocence or if the case is dismissed.  It is simply a fee that the bail bond company charges so that you do not have to deposit (in this example) the entire $1,500 with the court.

What Does the Bail Bond Company Do After I Pay Them?

After you have paid the bail bond company and all of the paperwork has been completed (the intricacies of bail bond paperwork will be described later on this page), the bail bond company goes to the jail and submits documents to the Shelby County Jail Clerk (or other jail clerk if the bond is made somewhere other than the Shelby County Jail).  These documents are a contract with the court to insure that the defendant makes all of his or her court appearances on their criminal case.

The bail bond company has committed itself to pay the full amount of the bail bond to the court if the defendant does not appear in court.  If a defendant fails to appear in court on any of his or her court dates, the bail bond company is issued a notice that the defendant must resolve his or her failure to appear warrant within 180 days of the date that court is missed.  After a defendant has missed court, a warrant is issued for his or her arrest.

If the arrest warrant is not resolved within 180 days of the defendant missing court, the bail bond company owes the full amount of the bond to the court.  Oftentimes, when a defendant misses court, the bail bondsman is able to resolve the issue without the defendant going back to jail.  If the defendant will communicate with the bail bondsman, the bail bond company is often able to make arrangements for the defendant to meet the bondsman at the office.  After this, the bail bondsman, the defendant, and the defendant’s attorney are often able to get the judge to give the defendant a new court date and recall the warrant for the defendant’s arrest.

In the scenario depicted above, the defendant is able to remain free on his or her bail bond.  It is very important for a defendant to maintain contact with his or her bail bondsman so that issues such as a missed court date can be resolved without the defendant going to jail.  If the defendant will not cooperate with the bail bond company after he or she has missed court, this is when a bail bondsman must find the defendant, place him or her under arrest, and return him or her to the custody of the court (jail).  This is not something that a bail bond company really wants to do.  We would much rather work with you where you can stay out on our bail bond instead of putting you in jail.

What Paperwork is Necessary on a Bail Bond?

Most every bail bond will require a co-signer on the bail bond contract.  A cosigner on a bail bond plays a similar role to the cosigner on a bank loan.  A cosigner must be gainfully employed or be able to demonstrate that he or she is financially stable.  United Bonding Company normally verifies co-signers employment through the submission of check stubs by the cosigner.  The cosigner is contractually responsible to the bail bond company for any money that the bail bond company may lose as a result of writing the bail bond as well as any remaining premium that is unpaid.

What if I Can’t Afford the Bail Bond Premium?

United Bonding Company helps hundreds to well over a thousand defendants make their bail bonds each year.  Sometimes, these defendants and/or their family members, friends, etc. cannot afford to pay the entire bail bond premium.  With adequate cosigners, United Bonding Company is able to take a smaller down payment and then finance the rest of the bail bond premium in installment payments. 

What Methods of Payment Does United Bonding Company Accept?

United Bonding Company accepts cash, debit and credit cards, cashier’s checks, and money orders as payment on bail bond premiums.  Additionally, we are able to accept bank-to-bank wire transfers.

Also check out our newest resource:  Ultimate Guide to Warrants in Shelby County, TN


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