When you are in a difficult situation, the second most important decision you can make, next to choosing a lawyer, is selecting a bail guarantor. They can be essential to you, your friends, and your family during this time. But how do you choose a good bail bondsman? There are certain attributes you should be looking for.

The Whole Process
A judge sets your bail amount based on the severity of the crime committed and the likelihood of you showing up to court dates. If you don’t pose a flight risk, then you have the option to either pay your bond in full or get help from a bail bondsmen. Having friends or family do some research for you is much better than blindly choosing someone. Overall, the bail bondsman will pay a certain portion of your bail and promise the court in a written contract that they will pay the rest if you do not show up. This means that the bondsman trusts that you will also keep to your word. They will require check-ins to make sure that you’re still where you should be and will show up to different court dates. At the end, the bail amount is returned to the company and the bondsman keeps 20% of that total, which they already collected.

Knowledge and Experience
It’s critical to choose a bail bondsman that is experienced and knowledgeable about what you’re going through. They should be able to answer all your questions and guide you through the entire process when it comes to Texas laws, so that you can make an informed decision. While it seems like a simple enough job, someone with experience is going to know how to save you time and get you out of jail faster. If they’re decent, they’ll know the policies at nearby facilities and use that to their advantage when getting you out. Also, a local bail bondsman will also have a good rapport with these local services and may be able to get you out quicker.

Trusted by the BBB and Appropriate Licensing
The first thing you should ask, as soon as you see them, is if they have any documentation that explains their terms quickly and easily without any confusion. If they don’t have documentation that spells this out, there’s a good chance that they might not be so experienced and might even be entirely new to the career. A serious bail bondsman will also be backed by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and they must be licensed and insured by the state.

Payment Terms
Finding someone that matches what you’re looking for regarding payment is also important. The bail bondsman of your choice should be upfront about how they do business, what percentage they take in the end, and if they ask you for collateral. If they do, they may be asking you for the title of your car or other collateral, just in case.

The Importance of Compassion
Why does it matter if a bail bondsman has an understanding and compassionate personality? A good bail bondsman will understand the predicament you are in, the sensitivity of the subject, the emotions that you are going through, and they will attempt to comprehend your financial situation. This kind of compassion means that your bondsman might be flexible when it comes to payment terms. While some are very specific about what they want, others might ask you what you can do. Bail bondsmen typically run from 10% to 20% of the bond amount. Despite this, they can work with you on the terms of payment and even a payment plan. If they can offer you financing and credit card payments when you need it most and don’t require collateral (unless it is a vast amount), they are a good choice.

A bail bondsman should always be available. They need to be available to you and your family to post the bond as quickly as possible and ensure you are released promptly.

They also need to be accessible after you’re released for reporting various court dates.

Makes an Effort to Know You
A good bail bondsman will take pictures of you, write down your identifying characteristics, any tattoos or markings, and likely do the same thing for your co-signer. They’ll then interview you with a series of questions. This means that they’re considering whether you’re a flight risk or likely to show up to court. The more they know about you and your personality, the more likely they are to help you.

The most important thing is that you are comfortable with the company you are using. If you believe at all that they aren’t a good fit, keep calling around. It will help to get referrals from friends or family, as officials and police officers cannot give any recommendations for you. You want to feel confident in who you’ve chosen to be on your side. Making sure that they are experienced and licensed, understanding of your situation, and available means that they’re more likely to do a good job and you are more likely to feel less of an emotional burden.