If you use the internet for everything from ordering food to buying a car, did you know search engines can help you find a reputable bail bond company, too? Be sure to search for companies that work in the jurisdiction where you were charged to come up with a short list of companies to consider. Consult with  your attorney to see what he or she knows about the companies you’ve found. Then, discuss with your lawyer the pros and cons of posting bail quickly, putting up private bail (your own resources, not those of a bail bonding company) or remaining in jail. These decisions are strategic legal actions that can have an effect on your case and should not be made lightly.

If you and your attorney decide to go with a bail bonding company to secure your release, it is critical that you follow a few simple steps to help ensure the best result:

First, take the short list you compiled from the web and begin asking people you trust for a personal referral to a bonding company. That trusted resource may be your attorney, a friend who works in the court system or even your pastor. Look for someone who has personal experience working with the firms you are reviewing.

Second, if you are depending on your attorney for a referral, ask how the relationship with their other clients were with that bonding company, and if they have ever had any issues. Many bonding companies have great relationships with attorneys and work together to ensure the entire process is smooth from start to finish. It is possible your attorney might know more than one bonding company for you to consider. It is important to make contact with these companies and discuss the details of your situation.

Although every bonding company is able to provide the same service of releasing somebody, the quality of service and the relationship after release until the conclusion of the case is absolutely paramount. Just like many other services, you get what you pay for. Finding the cheapest bonding company should not be the #1 priority. That savings could end up costing you more money in the long run when something goes wrong. An easy way to gauge the quality of service is how the company presents themselves when answering the phone or when speaking with you in person.

Third, look for a bail bonding company that has a long track record of service in your area, a solid reputation and a transparent way of doing business. In Georgia, you will be expected to pay a nonrefundable “premium” of up to 15% of the total bail amount to secure the bonding company’s services. If the bail bond company you are considering is not forthcoming about its fees or has charges outside that range, move on to the next name on the list. Keep in mind that charging a security deposit or collateral is sometimes required on top of the nonrefundable premium. This portion of fees are refundable upon the successful completion of the court case. This is similar to when hotels or car rental companies place a temporary hold on a credit card when checking in, but the amount is refunded once checking out.

Fourth, take the time to verify the bail bonding companies’ credentials once you come up with a short list for consideration. For example, visit the Better Business Bureau to see the grades of the companies on your list. This association, whose mission it is to connect consumers with reputable bail bonding companies, grades each registered agent from “A” to “F.” These days, Google reviews are an excellent way of verifying the quality of customer service and the experience to expect. If the company doesn’t have any Google reviews, you should move on to the next one that does.

In addition, local sheriff offices list bail bond agencies on their websites so check the county that charged you to find help. For example, if you have been charged in Fulton County, visit http://www.fultonsheriff.org/bonding-agencies.html. If you have been charged in Cobb County, visit http://www.cobbsheriff.org/bonds/.