Nobody ever plans on going to jail. At least I would hope that this is true. However, should you find yourself taking an escorted ride in the back of a police car you have several options when it comes to bail. Bond isn’t set until after the booking process. That process can take many hours after you reach the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center. Part of the booking process is running a criminal background check after you have been fingerprinted and photographed.
Once your bond or bail amount has been set by the judge you have several choices as to how to post it. Two options, which are not complicated, are posting a cash bond and paying a bail bondsman a fee for a commercial bond. Posting a cash bond involves having someone bring the full amount of your bond in the form of cash, a money order, or a cashier’s check to the JPCC. These funds are held until the conclusion of the case. Assuming you that you don’t miss court and have the bond forfeited then you will get all of this money back. Depending on how large the bond is this may not be financially possible.
A bail bondsman will charge you 12% of the amount of your bond as a fee for a commercial bond. This fee is not returned even if the charges are dropped by the District Attorney. Inside the holding tank at intake booking is a list of bail bondsmen by the phone. You can call them collect and try to make arrangements for a friend or family member to pay your bond. Again, if you have a $20,000 bond amount you may not have the $2,400 fee to pay the bondsman.
If you call an attorney instead of a bondsman you may be allowed to be released on a signature or (unsecured) personal surety bond. To qualify as a surety the signing person must be a citizen and live in the state of Louisiana. They must also be worth the amount specified in the bail bond. Judges generally prefer this person to be a family member. This signature bond option is for non-violent offenses and not for repeat offenders. A judge or commissioner must approve the surety.
Another option is a property bond. A property bond is a lien placed on your property in the amount of the bond. It is, however, a complicated and time consuming process. To begin with, you have to have enough equity in your property and have a judge approve the property before it can be used. These days, many property owners carry large mortgages and have little to no equity in their homes. There are also fees associated with running property certificates and recording the lien at the Mortgage and Conveyance office. The lien remains until the case is concluded and then it has to be cancelled.
If all else fails there is also the option of just sitting in jail and hoping to be released on a prison overcrowding bond. Despite the negative public reaction, when the jail is full some people will be released on prison overcrowding or released on recognizance bonds. There is a rating system so that career criminals will not get rolled out on their own signatures. Within 72 hours if you have not posted bond you will be moved upstairs into general population in the prison to await the resolution of your case.