Bail process in Tampa. If you are arrested in Tampa, there’s a good chance you’ll be brought to the Hillsborough County Jail for intake and booking. But whether it is this jail or another facility in the area, the process remains the same. Once booking is completed, you are allowed to make a phone call. You can contact a friend or relative to help you post a cash bond or to contact a bail bond agent for assistance. Or, you can call a bail bond company directly to begin the jail release process, if you are going to pursue a surety bond.
Types of Bail in Tampa.
- Signature release. As the name implies, a signature release requires only that a defendant sign a document agreeing to show up in court for all scheduled hearings. This option, also known as a release on recognizance, does not require the defendant to pay any money. It’s an option usually reserved for defendants with no criminal record who have been arrested for relatively minor crimes that did not involve violence.
- Cash bond. A defendant with sufficient resources can choose a cash bond and pay the entire bail amount to be released from jail. This release option can actually save money in the long run, as compared to a surety bond. A defendant who posts a cash bond receives the bulk of the money back at the end of the case. With a surety bond, the defendant pays 10 percent and does not get this money back. A cash bond can also be posted by a co-signer on behalf of the defendant.
- Surety bond. Many defendants are unable to afford 10 percent of a misdemeanor bond, much less a more expensive felony bond. In those cases, a surety bond is a cost-effective alternative. Under Florida law, bail bond agents can charge 10 percent of the total amount of bail. With a $25,000 bond, for example, that would be $2,500 – much more affordable than trying to come up with $25,000 in cash. Any adult can act as a co-signer for a defendant and pay for a surety bond.
Bail co-signer obligations. Who can be a co-signer in Tampa Bay? A co-signer, also known as an indemnitor, must be at least 18 years old and a United States citizen. Beyond that, individual bail bond companies have their own requirements that normally involve a credit check and a connection to the nearby Tampa community. Many companies will require collateral as well from a co-signer. The job of a co-signer is not done once the defendant has been released from jail. The co-signer must help ensure that the defendant shows up for all court hearings. If the defendant skips bail, the co-signer must attempt to locate and bring the defendant back to court.
Bail costs and options. The main cost involved with jail is if a bail bond agent is hired. The defendant, or co-signer, then must pay 10 percent of the total cost of the bail. That money is nonrefundable. Is it smarter to post a cash bond than a surety bond in order to avoid the 10 percent premium to the bail bond agent? That depends on how much the defendant or co-signer can comfortably spend. Criminal cases can be quite expensive with court costs, towing fees, attorney’s fees and other charges. If paying a cash bond limits the amount of money for those other obligations, a surety bond may be the best choice.