In California, if you’re charged with a criminal offense, you’ll be allowed to go home until your next court appearance if you can come up with enough money to pay the bail the judge has ordered for your case. Awareness is increasing about how this system often causes poor people that commit minor offenses to remain in jail, while wealthy people charged with similar crimes can return to their employment and their families until their next court proceeding. Most middle class people that have committed minor offenses can use credit cards, borrow from family members or purchase bail bonds from an agency, but poor people with poor credit and no assets can’t access these resources. California bail funds are charitable organizations that raise money to pay bail for people that would otherwise remain in jail while their cases progress through the courts.
California Bail Funds vs. California Bail Bonds
Bail funds should not be confused with bail bonds that are purchased from an agency. If you or your family members have good credit and/or assets, purchasing a bail bond that will allow you to quickly return to your job and take care of your children is a wise use of your resources. Most bail bonds cost 10% of the bail amount, so you’d be paying about $1,000 if your bail is $10,000, and some bail bond agencies will offer discounts down to 7% and other flexible payment plans. Court proceedings for criminal cases can drag on for months or even years, so the amount of income you’d lose while in jail makes bail bonds a great bargain. Bail funds are helpful for people that don’t qualify for bail bonds or for very low bail amounts that aren’t worthwhile for bail bond agencies to process. Bail funds typically charge lower rates than bond agencies and in some cases they will pay bail in full with no fee.
Should I Apply For Bail Funds?
Every bail fund has their own eligibility requirements that are generally based on:
- The Bail Amount: Most bail funds are only able to help defendants that require assistance with small amounts of bail;
- The Type of Crime: Some funds offer assistance for all types of crimes, but others limit funding to a specific type of crime such as people arrested for protesting. Some funds limit their assistance even further, only funding people arrested for protesting a specific type of crime such as police brutality or a type of protest such as “Black Lives Matter.”
- Income Restrictions: Some funds offer assistance to all who apply, but others limit their assistance based on income.
The process of researching your eligibility for available bail funds for your case, making an application and receiving a response can sometimes be lengthy and you’ll be in jail until your bail is paid. That’s why most people only turn to bail bonds if they don’t have enough cash of their own or credit of their own, can’t get enough money through loans from family and friends and aren’t eligible for bail bonds.
The Advantages of California Bail Bonds
If you’re eligible for California bail bonds, the advantages of selecting this option are clear. The best California bail bond agencies are open 24/7, are conveniently located and can have you out of jail in just a few hours. Some bail bond agencies in California make it even easier to apply with options to pay over the phone or with an online application. Some top notch agencies will even offer bail bonds for 1% down for first time offenders with excellent credit, giving you the opportunity to raise the rest of the cost of the bond from the comfort of your home. If getting out of jail quickly is your goal, it’s definitely worthwhile to pursue bail bonds immediately and only consider bail funds as a last resort.