What is a bail bond?
A bail bond, technically called a "surety bond", is a contractual undertaking guaranteed by a state licensed bail bailbondsman who is backed by an insurance company. The bail agent guarantees to the court payment of the full amount of the bond if the defendant fails to appear for their scheduled court appearances. For your protection, always deal with licensed bail bond company.
What are my options for release if I am arrested?
There are five options for release of a defendant:
- Surety Bond
- Release on his or her own recognizance (O.R.)
- Release on citation ("Cite Out")
- Bond and Cash Bail
What is a Cash Bond ?
To be released on cash bail, an individual must post with the court the total amount of the bail, in cash, to secure his or her return to court on an appointed date, and thereafter until the case is concluded. Full cash bonds provide a powerful incentive for defendants to appear at trial. If the defendant shows up for his/her scheduled court appearances, the cash is returned to him/her. If he or she fails to appear, the cash bond is forfeited to the court.
What is a Surety Bond?
An alternative to cash bail is the posting of a surety bond. This process involves a contractual undertaking guaranteed by an admitted insurance company having adequate assets to satisfy the face value of the bond. The bail agent guarantees to the court that they will pay the bond forfeiture if a defendant fails to appear for their scheduled court appearances. The bail agent's guarantee is made through a surety company and/or by the pledge of property owned by the agent.
For this service, the defendant is charged a premium. To be released pursuant to the posting of a surety bond, the arrestee, or a relative or friend of the arrestee, typically contacts a bail agent, an individual licensed by the State of California to post surety bonds. Prior to the posting of a surety bond, the bail agent undertakes a detailed interview of the proposed guarantor of the surety bond, as well as of the arrestee and relatives of the arrestee, as part of the underwriting procedure for bond.
By involving the family and friends, as well as through the acceptance of collateral, the bail agent can be reasonably assured that an individual released on surety bond will appear at his or her appointed court date, as required until the case is adjudicated.
After this procedure is concluded, if an agreement is reached, the bail agent posts a bond for the amount of the bail, to guarantee the arrestee's return to court.
With his money on the line, a bail agent has a financial interest in supervising bailees, and ensuring that they appear for trial. If a defendant "skips," the bail agent has time and the financial incentive to find him/her and bring him/her in. Significantly, commercial bail bond agents profit only when the defendant shows up for trial. Judges acknowledge that bail agents have highly efficient methods to get defendants to court.
What is Own Recognizance (O.R.)?
Another method of release pending trial is through a county or law enforcement administered pre-trial release program. Usually, the staff members of these programs interview individuals in custody and make recommendations to the court regarding release of these individuals on their own recognizance (i.e., without any financial security to insure the interviewee's return).
The interview process is often conducted over the telephone, with little inquiry to the individual's background to determine whether the detainee is likely to appear in court and with virtually no verification of information provided by the detainee. Since no money or bond is posted to secure the detainee's appearance in court, he or she faces no personal economic hardship from his or her conscious failure to appear.
What is Citation Release ("Cite Out")?
This procedure, known as the "Cite Out," involves the issuance of a citation by the arresting officer to the arrestee, informing the arrestee that he or she must appear at an appointed court date.
The Cite Out usually occurs immediately after an individual is arrested. As a consequence of the failure to follow complete booking procedures, the true identity and background of most individuals released on citation is never established. This results in the release of numerous arrestees who may have outstanding bench warrants pending or who may present a significant danger to society.
Accordingly, in these cases involving Cite Outs, the arrestee may never be placed in custody, and like the own recognizance release, such an arrestee's appearance in court depends exclusively upon the integrity of the alleged felon and his or her voluntarily returning to court.
What is a Property Bond?
In rare cases an individual may obtain release from custody by means of posting a property bond with the court. Here the court records a lien on property, to secure the bail amount. If the arrestee subsequently fails to appear at the scheduled court date, the court may institute foreclosure proceedings against the property to obtain the forfeited bail amount.
What is the cost of a Bail Bond?
In most states, including California, the cost of a bail bond is 10% of the bail. Note that each state sets their rates and the rates are non-negotiable.
What is the procedure for bailing somebody out of jail?
Generally, a bail bond company will be contacted by phone to begin the bail procedure. During the initial phone consultation, most companies will ask for information about your situation in order to determine the risk involved in the bond and begin the approval process.
Once the bail bond is approved, the customer will need to sign basic bail bond documents including an application, Indemnity Agreement, and receipt. After the paperwork is finalized and payment has been made, a licensed bondsman will “post” the bail bond at the jail.
How Long Is The Bail Process?
The paperwork takes approximately 15-45 minutes, depending on the complexity of the transaction. The release time can be one hour or less for local police stations and 6-12 hours in a county jail. Please remember that these times are not guaranteed but general time frames.
What is Collateral?
Collateral is some property placed within the bondsman's legal control, which may be sold in the event the defendant does not show for the next court proceeding. The bondsman can then sell the property to cover the amount paid to post the bail. Essentially, collateral is a way of insuring the defendant will go back to court and complete his/her obligation to the court.
When do I get my collateral back?
You will get your collateral back upon completion of the court case when one of the following happens: the charges are dropped, the defendant is found innocent at trial, the person is sentenced at trial. In other words, the outcome of the case.
Of course, the collateral will only be returned if there is no outstanding balance due on the Premium. The Bail Agent has a legal responsibility (called a fiduciary trust) to safeguard all collateral(s) until the balance is paid.