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How Does Bail Bond Work in California?

Have you or a loved one been arrested, or are curious about how bail bonds work in California? You’ll be happy to know that the process for California bail bonds and posting bail is similar to other states. Everything is regulated by the Department of Insurance in the state, creating a standardized process that is easy to follow.

After the Arrest

When someone is arrested, there is a standardized process. First they are taken into a jail and booked in the system. Then they wait for instructions, which include a bail hearing date if they need to have bail set for their release. For small crimes and certain situations, bail may not be required and people can be released on their own recognizance, as it’s assumed they’re a low risk for flight or other complications.

After being arrested, bail will be assigned at a bail hearing, which typically takes place within 48 to 72 hours of the arrest. Each county in California sets its own bail schedules, based on the type or severity of the crime, but those are not set in stone. Many people will get the standard bail amount. Others will have to pay more (or might be able to pay less) depending on the input of the arresting officer, the county prosecutor, and others.

Bail will also be higher if someone is considered a flight risk, which means that they could disappear while awaiting trial. That is a big risk the courts want to avoid.

Contacting a Bail Agent

Once bail is set, the person has the choice to pay the amount or to contact a bail bonds agent who can help them make the payment. Bail bond companies in California generally charge 10-15% of the bail amount as a service fee (non-refundable). They will then use the assets of the arrestee or those applying for bail on their behalf, to secure the bond, which they present to the court.

A bail bond isn’t a payment—it’s a promise to pay if the person doesn’t appear. That’s why you see TV shows about bounty hunters looking for people who have “skipped bail”—if someone had a $20,000 bond and they disappeared, that is left for the bail bondsman to pay. They don’t like losing that kind of money, so they’re going to protect any client who skips bail and costs the bondsman money.

Of course, if you skip bail, it’s not going to be as big of a show as it is on TV—you won’t have some rogue agent coming after you and chasing you down at all hours of the day and night. You will have people looking for you, however, and you will pay for the consequences of skipping bail if they find you.

Bottom line here? Just don’t skip out on bail and you’ll be fine.

What About Denials and Conditions of Release?

There is the option that the judge will deny bail and they don’t even have to tell you why. However, an attorney can also be helpful to suggest, instead of denial, that they impose certain conditions that prove the person will be okay to release. Certain conditions may be more fitting for certain situations than others, but common ones include:

  • Electronic monitoring
  • House arrest
  • Sobriety monitoring
  • License and passport surrender
  • Inability to leave the state

These are conditions that will have to be discussed between the attorney and the judge—only then will they decide on the appropriate course of action. 

Completing the Process

Ok, so you’ve applied for a bail bond, paid the fee, and are now able to walk freely around the world while you await trial. What’s next? All that you have to do is attend the court hearings that are mandated and follow the guidelines that you are given, and then you will complete the legal process and the bail bond will be released. Bear in mind that you will not get the fee back that you paid to the California bail bond company, even if you do everything right on your part—that’s the price you pay for getting the bond.

The best thing that you can do to get through this process with ease is to enlist the help of a trained, experienced California bail bond company that can walk you through the process and help you learn what to expect every single step of the way. Getting arrested and getting through the legal process is difficult enough—when you’ve got a good bail bond agent on your side, it will be much less stressful.

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