When someone you love is arrested and you know he or she is guilty, you probably have a confusing mix of emotions. You may feel an overwhelming need to bail this person out of jail as soon as possible, even if you don't have a lot of extra money available.

Before you start rushing around to make this happen, take a few minutes to consider whether you actually should bail this individual out. It may seem heartless to even think about refusing, but weighing certain factors is a smart decision.

The Basics of Bail

There are three main ways for paying bail. One is to pay the full cash amount, which is later returned if the defendant appears at all scheduled court dates. The second way is to secure the bail with collateral, such as real estate. The third is to obtain a surety bond from a licensed bail bonds service, like Bob Shropshire & Sons. You pay the bonds service a fee, such as 10 percent of the bail amount. 

Factors to Consider

Your Level of Responsibility

You must know and trust the arrested person well enough to be absolutely certain they won't skip town and will show up for court dates. If your loved one lets you down, you are responsible for paying the full bail amount. You'll either lose your money or your collateral, or you'll owe the full amount to the bail bonds service. 

Your Nonrefundable Fees

Even if your loved one appears in court, court costs will be taken from the bail amount you supplied before it's returned to you. In addition, if you contract with a bail bonds service, the fee this company charges is not refundable. 

Is your friend or relative going to pay this money back to you, or are you willing to accept the cost yourself?

The Arrested Person's Legal History

Does your friend or relative have a history of being arrested for relatively minor offenses and needing to be bailed out of jail? Families and friends can grow weary of a person's irresponsibility and recklessness, and eventually stop putting up bail. This is an important factor to consider, as you may be enabling this individual to continue behaving this way. 

Concluding Thoughts

Carefully consider the potential negative results of posting bail for your loved one before doing so. You may feel compelled to provide bail even if you're not entirely sure what will happen, but you'll be clear in your own mind about the possible consequences. You also can make a plan of action if something goes wrong.

Contact a licensed bail bonds service if you can't or don't want to put up full cash bail or your own collateral.