One of the most stressful aspects of being charged with a criminal offense is wondering whether you’ll have to wait in jail until your next appearance. Unless you’re charged with a capital crime, the judge will set an amount of money to be paid to the court to ensure your appearance at future hearings. This payment is known as bail. If you don’t have enough cash or credit available to pay bail, your family or friends can work with a California bail bond agency that can put up the money on your behalf and get you released from jail quickly.
What Is Bail?
Court proceedings can often take months or years, so it’s advantageous to be able to work at your job, take care of your children and prepare your defense from home. Bail is a refundable deposit that is paid to the court as collateral to ensure that you show up for all your court proceedings. The amount of bail will depend on the crime you’re accused of, your criminal record or lack thereof, your ties to the community and other factors. In California, bail is typically set at $20,000 - $50,000, but can be over a million dollars for serious crimes. Once bail is set, you must come up with the money required in order to be released until your next appearance.
What Is A Bail Bond?
A bail bond is a security that can be purchased from a bail bond agency for about 10% of the total bail amount. For example, if bail is set for $20,000, your family or friends would need to put down $2,000 to secure your bail bond. Some bail bond agencies offer discounted rates as low as 7% and offer flexible payment plans. In order to obtain a bail bond, your family and friends may have to cosign or attach their own property as collateral. If you don’t show up at your next appearance, the bail bond agency will make the required payment to the court. Then they will hire a bounty hunter to track you down and bring you back. Hiding from bounty hunters is usually futile because they have broad powers to cross state lines, enter homes without a warrant and use force to take you into custody. If you can’t be found or can’t pay the amount required, they will go after your family and friends that co-signed on your behalf.
Types of California Bail Bonds
There are many types of bail bonds that are available in California that are suitable for different types of crimes and circumstances:
- Cash Bond: Bail is paid up front with cash, a certified check, credit card payment or other similar type of funding. If you show up for all your appearances, the money is returned a few weeks after your case ends. The advantage of a cash bond is that rapid processing allows you to be released from jail quickly.
- Property Bond: Property bonds involve a pledge of property with equity at least double the price of your bail. Most judges will require the property to be appraised by a professional company, which can be a time consuming process. That’s why property bonds are usually only issued for serious crimes with large amounts of bail required.
- Federal Bond: If you’re charged with a federal crime, you may be eligible for a federal bail bond that’s backed by an insurance company. These bonds are usually more expensive than cash bonds, costing 15% of the full bail amount.
- Immigration Bond: This is a type of federal bond that’s used to release defendants that are being held by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). These bonds range in cost from 15% to 20% depending on the flight risk level.
California Bail Bond Agency
If you’re charged with a criminal offense and you don’t have the cash available to pay your bail, it’s important that your friends or family contact an experienced bail bond agency as soon as possible after bail is set. When you work with a reputable California bail bond agency, you have the best chance of being able to continue working, spending time with your family and planning your defense from the comfort of your home.