When you bail someone out of jail, you may be required to put up collateral — this is known as a secured bail bond. The bail agency takes several factors into consideration when determining whether or not collateral is required. If the amount of the bail is very large or if the bail agency determines that the defendant has a high risk of not showing up for court, it's likely that you'll be required to use collateral in order to secure bond for the defendant. Thankfully, there are a number of items that you can use as collateral for a bail bond. To help you successfully secure a bail bond, here are three common items that can be used as collateral to secure even the largest bonds.
1. Real Estate
For very large bail amounts, you may be required to use your home as collateral. You may be able to use your home as collateral even if you have a mortgage on your home, as long as you have enough equity. When you use your home as collateral, you'll have to temporarily assign the bail agency as the beneficiary of your home using a deed of trust.
When the defendant shows up for court and the bail money is released, the bail agency will release your home back to you. You can still continue living in your home while it is being used for collateral. If the defendant does not show up for court and the bail is forfeited to the court system, the bail bond agency has the right to seize and sell your home.
Cars, boats, motorcycles and recreational vehicles can all be used as collateral for a bail bond. When the bail amount is moderate, they're a useful way to quickly secure a bail bond and bail someone out of jail.
Bail agencies differ in the way that they treat vehicles when they're used for collateral — some agencies will retain possession of the vehicle, while others will only require that you hand the title over to them. Take this into account before using your primary vehicle as collateral, as you may have extreme difficulty getting to work without the use of your car.
3. Investment and Savings Accounts
The stocks, bonds, and mutual fund shares in your retirement account can be used as collateral in order to secure a bond. As with real estate, you temporarily name the bail agency as the beneficiary of the account. A retirement account is an excellent item to use as collateral, as it's unlikely that you would need to draw on the account while court proceedings are ongoing.
You can also use your savings account as collateral for a bail bond. However, you won't have access to your funds until the bail is released back to the bond agency after court proceedings have finished. If you rely on your savings to cover you in the event of a financial emergency, using your savings account as collateral can be risky.
On a final note, make sure that you fully trust a defendant before you put up any of your own belongings as collateral for a bail bond. Work with the defendant to make sure that they don't get rearrested and that they show up for all of their hearings on time in order to avoid the court system seizing the bail. If they don't show up for court, work closely with your bail bond agency in order to find them and return them to the justice system — you may be able to prevent your collateral from being seized.