First Time Behind Bars? 7 Common Questions About Bail Bonds
Navigating the criminal court system can be challenging. One of the biggest questions people have when they are charged with a crime is about bail and being released from custody. The following are some of the most common questions about bail and bail bonds.
1. What is Bail?
Bail is a legal concept that allows someone who has been arrested and charged with a crime to pay money and remain free until their trial date. This means that the offender can return home while they await their court hearings instead of remaining incarcerated during this period. They are able to do this by posting money or property as collateral, which serves as an assurance that they will appear in court when required.
2. How Does Bail Work in California?
In California, once the police have completed the booking process (fingerprinting, photographing, and entering personal information into the system), bail needs to be set. Based on the alleged crime and the accused’s criminal history, the judge will make a decision about the bail amount.
When the accused is released from custody, they must comply with all required terms and conditions—including appearing at all future court dates—in order to remain free until their trial date arrives.
3. What Is the Difference Between Bail and Bond?
Bail is an amount of money set by the court that must be paid in order for an accused person to be released from jail pending trial.
A bond is similar to bail in that it guarantees an accused person’s release from jail pending trial. However, with a bond, instead of paying cash directly to the court as one would do with bail, a third-party guarantor known as a bondsman agrees to post bail for a fee that the defendant does not get back.
4. What Are the Different Ways To Pay Bail/Be Released?
There are several means of being released from custody in criminal cases. The judge will either set the bail at own recognizance release (OR), set a cash bail amount, or hold the defendant without bail, in which case the person will remain in custody until the conclusion of their case.
OR does not require the posting of money or a bond to secure release from jail. Instead, it is an agreement between the defendant and the court that the defendant will appear for all future scheduled court dates.
5. What Is a Surety Bond?
In some cases, an individual will use a bail bond agency to be released from custody. In this situation, a bail agent posts a surety with the court on behalf of an accused person. The agent charges a fee for their services – usually about 10% – which must also be paid upfront. This fee is non-refundable even if the accused is found innocent or the charges are dropped.
6. What Do Bail Bond Companies Do?
A bail bond company combines lending with law enforcement assistance. They lend money to individuals unable to pay their bail (which can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars) and charge a fee in exchange for their services.
The bondsman then pays the full amount of the bail to the court, allowing the defendant’s release until their court date arrives. Once that date approaches, if the defendant appears in court as promised, then the court returns that full amount back to the bondsman.
However, if the defendant fails to appear on their court date, the bond is forfeited, and the bondsman has the authority to pursue the defendant and recover their money.
7. Will Bail Bondsmen Accept Anything Other Than Cash as Their Payment?
Bondsmen will typically accept a variety of collateral, such as real estate, cars, credit card payments, stocks, bonds, and jewelry. If the defendant fails to appear in court or otherwise violates their conditions of release, the collateral can be seized as part of the bond agreement.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Criminal Defense Lawyer
When facing arrest and possible incarceration due to an inability to pay your bail, it can feel like there aren’t many options available–but bail bond companies can help. Utilizing a reliable bonding agency can help alleviate some of those worries, but it also costs money that won’t be refunded, which must be considered.
If you have any questions about bail or the criminal justice process, contact an experienced defense attorney to reivew your options.
Contact the Los Angeles Criminal Defense Law Firm of The Rodriguez Law Group Today For Help
The Rodriguez Law Group – Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
626 Wilshire Blvd Suite 460, Los Angeles, CA 90017, United States