Most people understand the basics of bail and how they work in California. When a person is arrested on criminal charges, they may stay in custody throughout their trial unless they post bail prior to seeing a judge. Yes, it is possible to do this before seeing a judge. There are however some cases that a person will not be allowed to post bail until they see a judge. These are usually more serious crimes. When we post a bond for someone we usually extend the court date for 30 days so our clients have time to build their case, hire an attorney, find the proof of completion, etc…
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This is the first question to answer: Should the arrestee stay in jail for weeks or more, or is it better to get them out?
The detained must decide, but the family or friends often get involved in this important decision to arrange for release, or to stay in jail. Job and family considerations of course may determine that getting out of jail is best, rather than jail during the waiting period.
What is bail?
It is defined as the amount of cash money, or a surety bond, designed to ensure that the accused appears at all of their court ordered hearings. This allows the arrestee to be released from jail to continue their responsibilities for the duration of the case against them.
Can everyone post bail at a jail?
If the arrestee is financially able, in order to get out of jail, the detained may post their own bail. Also, any legal adult 18 years of age or older may bail out the arrestee from jail, but at the full cash bail amount.
When do I get my money back after bailing my friend out of jail?
When you post cash bail, or pay the jail the entire amount of bail set by the court, once the court case and all of the paperwork is properly completed and processed, and assuming the defendant has made all of their court dates, you may get back most of not all of your bail from the jail. However, the timeline average approximates about 4-6 months, depending on the jurisdiction, and your money is not earning interest for this period. You also cannot request back your bail money from the jail-once you post the cash bail, the money is literally out of reach until the case is finished. This is also called a cash bond, used to bail out a friend or family member from jail. Posting cash bail at a jail is not very common. Posting a bail bond backed by a surety company is much more common.
What fees accompany cash bail ?
If the penal amount set by the judge is $20,000, then the cash required is the full $20,000 plus any court fees, usually less than $100. Note: It is illegal for an agent to post cash, but the defendant, a representative or agent of the defendant, such as their attorney, can post the cash.
After post cash bail, what if I have second thoughts or doubts?
As the poster of cash, your are showing your faith that the arrestee will not skip bail after getting released from jail. If the defendant disappears, your cash will be forfeited. However, if you persuade the accused to remand them self back into custody before missing a court date, and if you file the completed and appropriate paperwork at the jail, your cash is returnable usually within 30 days. The cash bond money is only returned to the person whose name appears on the cash bond receipt, so make sure the correct name is listed when posting cash bail.
What if charges are dropped or the defendant is found not guilty?
In these cases, the person shown on the cash bail receipt and the address on record should receive the money back within about two weeks.
What happens to my money if the accused misses their court date?
After the judge issues a bench warrant authorizing the arrest of the defendant, the cash bond goes into default, called a forfeiture. The only way to get back your money is for the accused to be put back in jail, either by local law enforcement, or on their own action. In California, after 180 days, the cash bail is completely forfeited.
What is a Bond?
A bonds make much more sense than posting cash bail. Common titles for the professional acting on behalf of the surety companies are bonding agents, who legally must be licensed by the state insurance regulatory authority (in California it is the Department of Insurance). The bail arrangement is an agreement between the cosigners and the bonding company, with the surety company and the agency signing for the full penal amount.
What is a surety bond?
A surety bond is an agreement made between one or more persons and a bond agent where the bondsman agrees to post the necessary money so that a defendant can be released from jail. Keep in mind that when you qualify and purchase a bond the premium is usually 10% of the penal amount set by the court, and once the arrestee has been bailed out, the company has performed their duty, and the premium that you have paid is non-refundable for any reason. Only a person who has been licensed by the State Department of Insurance may post a surety bond.
Is collateral necessary?
Many times, collateral is necessary. The bond is then backed by sufficient cash or collateral to cover the full amount if the defendant skips bail.
Why should one hire a company to help me?
If you don’t have the cash to cover the full bond amount, you may wish to hire a bondsman to bail yourself or someone else out of jail. Also, as mentioned above, sometimes a cash bond is kept by the court. If you are bonding someone out of jail and you don’t want to take the gamble that most or a fraction of your cash will be used to pay the accused court reimbursement, you may wish to consider hiring a bondsman. Not losing control of your cash capital is the best reason to purchase a bond for percentage of the penal amount.
What are the responsibilities of a consigner?
Since you have vouched for the court appearances of the accused, it is in your best interest to provide assistance to the bail bond agent to find the defendant.
If I utilize an agent, will I eventually receive my money or collateral back?
The premium and state fees are not refundable. Collateral offered is returnable depending on your written agreement with the agency. BEFORE SIGNING ANY CONTRACTS OR PROMISSORY NOTES, READ THEM THOROUGHLY AND MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THEM. ALWAYS GET COPIES OF ALL DOCUMENTS YOU SIGN AT THE TIME YOU SIGN THEM.