Is it wise for relatives and friends to post bail?

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Question:

I've been asked by an old friend to post bail for him. What are the issues I should think about?

Answer:

A true test of a relative’s or friend’s trust in a suspect can arise when the suspect calls from jail and says something like, “I need you to post bail for me.” A relative or friend who posts full cash bail for a suspect may lose it all if the suspect jumps bail. If the friend or relative purchases a bail bond and the suspect jumps bail, the bail bond agency will have to pay the full amount to the court, and will in turn demand payment of the full amount of the bond from the purchaser.

Even if the suspect makes all required appearances, the bail bond purchaser is out the bond seller’s fee and may have property tied up as collateral. Finally, people who post bail for a suspect may have to appear in court and answer questions under oath as to where they got the money used to post the bail. Thus, before agreeing to post bail for a suspect, friends or relatives have to consider their own financial needs, the risk of the suspect jumping bail, and the likelihood that the suspect will repay any out-of-pocket costs (such as the bond seller’s fee).

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