How Bail Bonds Work in California
If you’re lucky, you’ll never need to know how bail bonds work and you have never needed a bail bond company to help you. But if your luck changed – even one drink too many at the company Christmas party could find you in jail – and getting out of jail quickly is suddenly important to you, you’ll probably find yourself working with a bail bondsman. Let’s review how bail bonds work in California.
How Bail Bonds Work in California: Exploring the Process Itself
The first thing to happen after the arrest is booking into jail. Then there will be an arraignment. This often occurs the day after the arrest, but depending on the day of the week, it could be a day to several days after the arrest.
The arraignment is when bail is set. It’s also when you will learn when your first court date will be. Once bail has been set, your defense attorney or a family member can contact a bail bondsman to start the process of getting you released from custody.
Given how bail bonds work in California, the bail bondsman will need a few pieces of information. These will include:
· The name of the defendant
· The charges against the defendant
· The amount of bail
· The jail in which the defendant is incarcerated in the state of California
· Supporting details
Once all the information has been provided to them, the bail bond agent will tell you the total cost of the bond fee, which should be 10% of the total bail amount. So, if your bail is set at $45,000, it would cost $4,500. Once the bond fee has been paid, the bail bond agent will post bond with the court on your behalf. The defendant is then released and can get on with their life until their court date.
How is The Total Bail Amount Determined?
A judge will determine the amount of bail based on several different factors. These include the severity of the charges, the number of charges, the defendant’s criminal history, their perceived flight risk, and more. Generally speaking, more serious charges are associated with higher bail amounts, and the same is true for having multiple charges.
Can I Pay by Personal Check?
Some – but not all – bail bond agents in the state of California will accept personal checks. Other forms of payment that most bail bond companies accept include a credit card, cashier’s check, and bank transfer. Because of the amounts in question, cash is usually not used.
What Is a Property Bond?
You may have heard of putting up the title to your home or vehicle in exchange for being released from custody. This is called a property bond. Because of how bail bonds work in California, you will need to provide tax records from the previous three years, as well as deeds for all your properties and an estimate of their value. These items will prove you actually own the property you’re using as collateral.
What If I Can’t Pay Bail?
Bail must be paid before a defendant is released from jail. If you cannot pay, you may be stuck in jail until your court dates. These could be weeks or even months away, and because the defendant remains incarcerated, they’re unable to work, pay their bills, or see their family members.
The other option – the one that gets you out of jail before your court date – is to work with a bail bond agency. With how bail bonds work in California, you will be required to pay 10% of the total bail amount upfront as a bond fee to the bail bond agency. For most bail amounts, that still means coming up with thousands of dollars upfront, which is not possible for many people. In this instance, it helps to work with a bail bondsman who is willing to set up payment plans. In this case, you will make payments over a specific number of months you negotiate with the bond agency, making the entire process much more affordable.
What If the Defendant Fails to Appear?
If the defendant fails to appear in court, a warrant for their arrest will be issued. Law enforcement will look for them. The bail bondsman will also begin tracking the defendant to return them to jail. Once the individual is located and arrested, the original bail bond agreement is null and void, and the bail process will have to start again, though it’s very unlikely a defendant with a proven flight risk will be granted bail a second time. This is why ensuring the defendant appears for their court date is so important.
Your Choice of Bail Bondsman Is Important
Securing release from jail is a daunting and sometimes confusing process. Working with the right bail bondsman is critical. It’s important to choose a reputable company. Look for a bail bond agency that:
· Has years of history to its name
· Is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week
· Will provide answers to questions and guidance through the process
· Accepts a range of payment types
· Will work with both family members and criminal defense attorneys
While bail bondsmen cannot provide legal advice, they are a critical resource in getting your life back on track. Choose your bail bond agency with care, and you’ll find that they can help tame the chaos that follows an arrest. A great bail bond agency can help you get back to living your life.