How Do Bail and Bonds Work?
Last Updated on August 21, 2020
If you are arrested for a crime you may be required to post bail before you are released from police custody. What is bail? What if I don’t have cash to pay the amount set by a court? Who can help me post bail? As experienced California criminal defense attorneys we get questions like these a lot. We think it is important for you to know what jail bonds are and how they work. For more information about jail bonds do not hesitate to contact The Rodriguez Law Group.
What is Bail?
Bail is a payment that is made to a court to ensure that a defendant will return to court for their scheduled hearings. You can think of it as a type of collateral. If you show up for your scheduled criminal hearings the money is generally returned to you.
How is the Amount of Bail Determined?
Each County in California has established what is known as a “bail schedule.” The bail schedule is a list of bail amounts that are generally appropriate for specific crimes. In Los Angeles County, the Criminal Court has both Felony and Misdemeanor bail schedules.
The Felony Schedule, for example, provides general recommendations for bail based on the maximum state prison term that could be awarded for the crime for which you are arrested. If you are arrested for a felony offense that carries a maximum of 3 years in prison, the judge will find that the Felony Schedule recommends setting bail at $20,000. The judge will then weigh additional factors that could reduce or increase this amount.
Factors that can affect the amount of bail set for your release can include:
- Public safety concerns associated with your release from custody;
- If you are a “flight risk” after release;
- The nature and severity of the offense of which you are accused;
- Whether weapons were used in the crime;
- Whether illicit drugs were found in your possession; and
- Your prior criminal history.
The amount of bail that is set for a specific crime will vary from county to county and from case to case. An experienced California criminal defense attorney can help to limit the amount of bail that is assigned to your case. Contact us today to learn more.
Types of Bail Bonds
You can “make” bail by paying the bond that is set by the court. There are three primary types of bail bonds: cash bonds, property bonds, and bail bonds. Bail bonds are the most popular type of bond.
Cash: Cash bonds are exactly what they sound like: you pay your bail amount with cash. Many times, the amount of bail that is set will be greater than the amount of cash the average person has access to. For this reason, cash bonds are not used too often. If you do post a cash bond it will be generally be returned to you after the case against you has finished. If you are required to pay fines or restitution those amounts may be taken directly out of the cash bond you posted.
Property Bond: Property bonds are used when you have real, tangible property of value and use it as collateral for your release. The value of a property bond must be at least 150% of the amount of the bail that is set. For example, if you own a home with a value of $150,000, you may be able to use it as a property bond for bail amounts up to $100,000.
Property bonds can be complicated, though. Before a judge can accept your property bond there must be a hearing to establish the value and ownership of the property you would like to use. At this hearing, you will have to provide the original deed or certified copy, a current appraisal, a preliminary title report executed within the last 10 days, the balance of all loans on the property, and a history of all title liens against the property. If other people are listed on the deed, they must attend this hearing.
Bail Bonds: Bail bonds are the most popular type of bond. Bail bonds use a middleman, known as a bail bondsman, as a liaison between the court and the defendant. When you use a bail bondsman you pay them a fee, post collateral, and promise to show up in court for your future hearings. They, in turn, post bail on your behalf.
Bail bondsmen generally charge a non-refundable fee of 10% of the bail you need to have paid. Some bail bondsmen will offer reduced rates to clients who are in the military, government or union employees, or referred by an attorney. If you have been arrested you should contact an experienced California criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can fight to reduce your financial responsibility by arguing for limited bail amounts and referring you to a reputable bail bondsman for assistance.
If you fail to appear for your scheduled hearings after posting a bail bond the bondsman who posted bail on your behalf will lose that money. The collateral you use to guarantee your bond will be forfeited to the bail bondsman. They may also try to collect the amount of bail they lost to the court directly from you or your co-signer.
Need More Assistance with Bail or Bonds?
If you or someone you know has been arrested for a crime you should not hesitate to contact an experienced California criminal defense attorney. An attorney can help to limit the amount of bail that is set in your case and refer you to a reputable and affordable bail bondsman. Contact our Los Angeles office for a free consultation today.