Should You Post Bail For A Friend?

It's the middle of the night. Your phone rings, and it's a friend on the line. They're asking you to post bail for them so they can leave jail until their hearing date. What should you say? While some people would tell you that posting bail for a friend is always the right thing to do, this is not necessarily the case. You don't want to post bail only to have your friend flee before court—because then you won't get your bail money back. Here are a few things to consider as you decide whether to post bail for a friend.

What were they arrested for?

Generally speaking, the more serious the crime, the more likely the arrested party is to flee. This is why bail is set higher for serious charges. If your friend has been charged with a serious crime like murder or arson, you should think very, very carefully before posting bail. On the other hand, if their crime was more minor—such as a DUI or petty theft -- they are less of a flight risk, and posting bail is not such a risky choice.

Has this person been arrested before?

Everyone makes mistakes. If this is your friend's first big mistake and their first time being arrested, then they deserve a little compassion in the form of you stepping up to post bail. On the other hand, if they have been getting in a lot of trouble and this is one in a series of arrests, you may want to think twice before posting bail. They may need to learn a hard lesson, and failing to post bail can help teach them that lesson.

Can you afford not to get the bail money back?

Think how your life would change if you did not get the bail money back. Would you simply be short on cash for a few weeks, or would you have to skip paying some bills and fall behind on your mortgage? If you can't afford to go without the money you'd post as bail, you should think twice before posting it. Even if your friend is a reliable person, there is a small chance that they could flee and leave you on the hook.

If you are having trouble coming up with the money to bail a friend out, and you're sure that bailing them out is the right thing to do, contact a bail bondsman in your area.