In most cases, it all starts with a collect phone call from a correctional institution. You accept the charges and hear your friend or loved one on the other end, upset, scared, angry, perhaps even crying. As you piece together what is being said, you realize he or she is in jail and wants you to come post bail. Of course, you want to do this, but just are not sure of how, or exactly what will be involved. Luckily, there are usually a number of bail bond places, like Alda Pauline's Bail Bonds, located around the courthouse or detention center. Find the phone number for one, and make arrangements to meet at the business. Here are a few things you should know before you pay to get someone out of jail.

Do You Need a Bail Bond?

If the bail is set low enough, or you happen to have the money, instead of having to pay the fees for a bail bond, you can pay the court yourself. This will need to be done in cash, check, money order, or a credit card. You cannot post bail yourself quickly by using some form of collateral. You will need to go to or call the detention center to find out where you can pay the bail. In some places, it is at the police station or detention center, in other places you may have to wait until the court is open to pay it there.

Is it Bail or a Fine?

When the person was arrested for failing to pay a traffic ticket, it may not be bail that is being paid, but the cost of the ticket and warrant. In this case, you will not be getting your money refunded from the court or bondsman. When the ticket, or tickets, cost more than you can afford, you can still go to a bondsman and pay a percentage of the amount due to have the person released. Usually, this amount is 10 percent of the ticket plus administrative fees to the bond company. Your friend will be given a court date where he or she can make arrangements to pay the ticket(s). The amount you paid for the bail will not be refunded to you and does not come off the amount your friend will have to pay; it is the bondsman's fee.

While you probably want to help your friend get out of jail, make sure you have all the facts before you do. Be aware that you may never see that money again, or that it could take months to get it back, either from your friend or the court.