Having a loved one or a family member arrested and detained is a stressful time for any family. It can be an unusually trying and emotional time. People are embarrassed, worried about finances, and anxious to get their loved one out of jail. Such a combination of events leaves people vulnerable to a number of scams and outright fraud. It is easy to get caught in one of these scams which are often costly and always illegal. There have been scenarios where the bail bondsman has had to share the same cell with their client instead of bailing them out. You should try to avoid such occurrences at all costs. Some of the common scams perpetrated by bail bondsmen are:
Charging Too Little For A Bail Bond
It may seem like a good deal if you are being offered cheap bail bonds, but it is not. Bail bondsmen may promise 5% bail or another amount that’s lower than the 10% bail bond premium required by law. An establishment that offers a cut rate is likely either advertising deceptively or is in blatant violation of the law. For example if bail is set at $25,000, the fee that you pay to a bail bondsman is generally 10% of the total or $2,500. That fee is paid to the bail bondsman who promises the court that the defendant will show up for court appearances and thus the defendant is released from jail. The bail bondsman keeps the bail premium as a fee for assuming the liability of the full amount of the bail.
Bail bond companies advertising 5% bail bonds means a bail bond fee of $1,250 instead of $2,500 on a $25,000 bond. It may sound like a great deal over the phone, but once at the bail bondsman’s office people are surprised to discover that the bail company will take 5% in cash or credit as a down payment and finance the balance with interest. It’s a classic bait and switch tactic. However, as most people are highly vulnerable at such a time and they just go ahead and sign the paperwork. Such practice is not illegal but it is misleading. It is however illegal for any bail company to charge less than the rate established by law. Bail bondsmen risk losing their license and having their businesses shut down.
Solicitation Of Business Inside Jail Cells Or Lobbies
There are laws that regulate when and how bail bondsmen can solicit business. Some bondsmen blur the line between flouting and following the rules. They are expressly forbidden from hanging out in the jail and offering their services. However, some bondsmen ignore this law and solicit business in this manner anyway. This leads to tension between bail bondsmen who are competing with each other and between companies who follow the rules and those who don’t. From an ethical and legal standpoint, the practice of paying kickbacks via reduced bail fees to jail inmates who refer other arrestees to the bail bondsmen is even worse. Word of mouth advertising may be allowed but this practice is illegal. Bail bondsmen risk the revocation of their license and could even face felony charges and jail time if they resort to such tactics.
Solicitation Of Business Outside The Jail
Cold calling potential clients and soliciting business is illegal for bail bondsmen but some go ahead and do it anyway. Bail bondsmen often obtain booking information online and track their family members or loved ones via the Internet. If a potential family member of an arrestee is identified, the bail bondsman calls to offer their services. If you ever receive a call from a bail bondsman, try to inquire how the bondsman came to be aware of the situation, if the agent refuses to tell you or tells you they obtained the information from the police or online, then you should be highly skeptical of this scenario. A client must contact a bail agent as per the rules of this industry. It is illegal for a bondsman to call and offer unrequested services.
The caller may not even be an actual bail bondsman and may just be looking to swindle you out of your hard earned money. Responsible, licensed bail bondsmen always work within the system and adhere to the rules. However, if a bail bondsman doesn’t follow the law, they probably aren’t trustworthy to begin with. If you are faced with a situation where a family member or loved one has been arrested it is vital to contact a criminal defense attorney to help assist you in navigating through the criminal process.
Compassionate attorneys at the Anthony Ranken & Associates provide strong representation for Personal Injury and criminal law cases in Hawaii.
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