Being behind bars is a stressful situation for you and your loved ones. So, the first thing on your mind would be how to get out. If you’re granted permission to post bail in North Carolina, it’s your opportunity to leave the cells until the court resolves your case. The judge will determine your bail price, depending on the charges filed against you.
Not everyone has cash on hand to make bail, though. Working with a local bondsman helps you pay your bail through a bail bond. This is a surety bond where you agree to appear for trial or pay a certain amount set by the court.
As someone in need, you’re more vulnerable to fraudulent bail bond schemes. You need to choose your bail bond agent carefully.
The Prevalence of Bail Bond Fraud
Last year, authorities arrested Phillip Armachain, the only bail bond agent in Cherokee, for making women in the town uncomfortable and afraid. According to NC Policy Watch, Armachain is one of over 80 licensed bail agents in North Carolina charged with using their position to exploit clients.
The report cited the North Carolina Department of Insurance has over 1,500 arrests in relation to insurance and bail bonding fraud between 2009 and 2016. Data also show more than 750 criminal convictions with over 250 cases are still pending in court. The precise number of cases involving bail bonding is not clear, however.
Signs of a Bail Bond Fraud
Finding a reputable bail bonds company is crucial in situations like this. In desperate times, however, you might overlook the legitimacy of the company or the agent you work with. Some of them may not have the license to provide the services they offer to you.
Here are some red flags to help you avoid being a victim of bail bond scams and fraud:
- Big discount – fees that bail bond companies charge are usually set by the law. Bail agents normally charge 10 percent of the bail amount but you have to pay the full amount after trial. Giving a huge discount is questionable so these companies are likely to be fraudulent.
- No paperwork – getting a bail bond agreement requires you to fill out paperwork. Be wary if your agent didn’t ask you to do this process. Remember also not to pay anything prior to signing a contract. Make sure they present enough documents proving the legitimacy of their services.
- No License – bail bond companies should have the right license to operate. Always ask for your agent’s license. Real agents won’t hesitate to show it to you. If they refuse or become defensive, you’re likely dealing with a fraud.
Always run a background check before working with a bail bond agent. Use the resources available to you, like the Internet. You can also ask other people who have been in a situation like yours for advice.
In case you become a victim of bail bond fraud, make sure to report the incident to authorities. Contact your attorney to help you throughout the process. It can be an exhausting process but it pays off once you have bailed out of jail and be with your loved ones again.