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California Bail Bonds: What You Need to Know

In California, when an arrestee’s bail is set by the court, that arrestee can either pay the bail (or have someone pay it on their behalf), or they can enlist the services of a bail bonds agent in California to guarantee the bail via a bond. If the arrestee does not pay the bail or secure a bond, they remain in jail until their court date. The “bond” is a guarantee from the bail bond agency to the court that if the released defendant fails to appear in court when required – or fails any other requirements of bail – the bail bonds agency will be responsible for paying the full bail amount.

The bail fee is only a portion of the bail amount (10-15%, on average). The bail feeis a one-time nonrefundable payment made immediately by the arrestee (or their family) to their California bail bonds company to cover the agency’s assumed risk. As long as the person shows up to court and follows the court’s orders, the bail bonds company does not lose money and the bail fee compensates them for their services. In exchange, defendants who aren’t considered high-risk can be released from jail while awaiting trial.

In today’s overcrowded criminal justice system, a quick release from jail while awaiting trial is a big perk. Some trials can take months, or even years, depending on the situation, and that can mean a lot of time behind bars for those who can’t afford to make bail. That’s where California bail bonds come in handy, and why you should consider them if you or your loved ones need help coming up with the full amount of bail set by the court.

Who Determines the Bail Amount?

The bail amount will typically be decided (or announced) at the bail hearing. There are schedules of pre-determined bail amounts in each state, county, and city, that determine the bail based on the crime that was committed. This makes the bail process a lot quicker and easier for the most part. It is up to the judge at the bail hearing to determine if the preset bail amount is acceptable or if another amount might better fit the specific charges and defendant in question.

It is also possible for law enforcement to suggest that bail for a defendant should be higher than what it says on the bail schedule. During the bail hearing, the judge will either agree or disagree with this suggestion, and then determine what is appropriate. All arrestees have the option to dispute their bail amount.

There are also instances where people are released without bail. It can be  called being “released on your own recognizance.” In other cases there may be no need for bail if the crime is minor and the person doesn’t present a flight risk.

What Is a Bail Bond?

A bail bond is a type of surety bond, which is posted to the court by a registered bail bond agency to guarantee the appearance of a defendant or arrestee at all future court dates. A bail bond is a promise, not cash. The bail fee that’s paid by the arrestee or their family to the bail bond agency is much lower than the full bail amount, but it compensates the bail bond agency for the risk they are taking when providing this bail bond to the court..

When a bail bond is used, the courts will release the arrestee on the agency’s promise to pay the full bail amount if the defendant later fails to show up in court. No money is exchanged at the time of release. It is only if a defendant fails to appear that the bail bond company will be held responsible and expected to pay the bail. If that happens, the bail bond agency will probably start looking for the defendant, too, because the agency won’t want to pay the full bail amount.

California Property Bonds

In California, property bonds are another means sometimes used to secure the release of someone who has been arrested. They’re similar to traditional bail bonds, but instead of money being given to the bail bond company, the company receives property, such as a house or expensive vehicle, that can secure the bond if the defendant doesn’t appear.

Property bonds are rarer, but they do exist and can be used to help people get out of jail when there is a lack of financial support or capability. After all, in addition to paying the bail fee, people also need to prove to the bail bond agent that they are worth the financial risk the agency is taking. 

Regulation and Oversight

California’s Department of Insurance is responsible for regulating the bail bonds system in the state. They have all kinds of information about bail, bail forfeitures, violations, schedules, and other laws and guidelines. There’s even a handy infographic that explains the entire legal process from the time that bail is posted until the court process is complete:

You can learn more about California’s bail bonds at the CDI website.

You’re Never “Stuck” in Jail

Bail bonds exist so that normal people who don’t have access to unlimited wealth don’t have to sit in jail for weeks, and even months, until their trial. If you are arrested in California, that’s good news and should help you feel a little less stressed. Even if you can’t come up with the money yourself, you can contact a California bail bond agent to help you post bail so that you can at least be comfortable at home until your court hearing.

By taking the time to understand the bail process in California, you’ll be able to have a less stressful experience all around. Whether you’re investigating bail for yourself or a loved one, you now have the knowledge and tools to take advantage of this service. Contact a bail agent in California to get the help you need today.

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