You get a call in the middle of the night from your sister, who is in jail – again. She wants you to contact a local bail bondsman and post bail so that she can go home. You don’t ask what it she’s done because chances are, you don’t want to know. But the question remains: should you post bail?
Americans are confronted with this question all the time, and there really is no easy answer. It is instinctive to help friends and family members when they are in trouble, but is it really in your best interests to post bail?
Should You Post Bail: Is the person a danger to himself or others?
If your friend or family member is a danger to someone else, then the best place for that person is jail. You might think that you can handle any situation, but when people are intent upon committing a crime, you might not have much weight. When deciding whether or not you should post bail, make sure that you won’t be endangering the life or livelihood of anyone.
Should You Post Bail: Do you have the money?
Depending upon the crime and the judge’s mood at the time of arraignment, you might end up having to pay several hundred or even several thousand dollars in bail money. The bail bondsman will put up 90% of the total amount, while you will be responsible for the remaining 10%. If you don’t have the money available, then you can’t help anyway.
Should You Post Bail: Will the person pay you back?
When sitting in jail, people will say anything to convince a friend or family member to “spring” them from their cells, including, “I swear I’ll pay you back!” That isn’t good enough. Before you even head to the bail bondsman’s office, type up a promissory note that the friend or family member will have to sign as soon as he or she walks out of jail.
Should You Post Bail: Is this the [18th] time this has happened?
Your friend or family member should learn from his or her mistakes, and so should you. A person might be a victim of circumstance once or twice and wind up behind bars, but once the instances approach the double digits, it’s time for you to face facts. That person might not learn to give up a life of crime if he or she doesn’t sit in jail for several days, awaiting trial.
Should You Post Bail: Is someone else a danger to the person in jail?
In some cases, the commission of a crime warrants the revenge of others whose loved ones are victims. If your friend or family member is accused of a violent crime, and you are concerned that the victim’s family might try to harm him or her, it might be best for that person to stay in jail, where he or she can be protected.
Ultimately, it is your decision whether or not you should bail your friend or family member out of jail. Exercise common sense, however, and don’t allow pleas or promises to sway your way of thinking.