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How Does Bail Work in California

How do Bails Work?

Bail refers to money that you or someone else deposits as an assurance that you will show up for all future court appearances. By depositing bail, you can get out of jail while you await your court appearances. 

You can make bail in cash, or through a bond from a bail bondsman. Not all offenses require bail. The amount that your bail is set at is determined by a judge according to the nature of the offense and your own history. You can also put up your property as collateral for bail bonds.

As long as you make all of your scheduled court appearances, the full bail amount will be returned to you. If your bail is deposited through a bondsman, they will typically charge around 10% of the bail amount for this service.

What Happens if You Don t Pay Bail Bonds?

If you do not make your bail payments on time, your bondsman can sue you in civil court to recover what you owe them. They will also revoke your bond if your case is still open.

Unless you can get another bail bond company to assume responsibility for your bail, you will be taken into custody to await your court date in jail.

how does bail work California

How Much is Bail in California?

Depending on the nature of your circumstances, bail amounts in California usually range between $10,000 and $100,000. As most people don’t have this kind of money available at short notice, many defendants opt to post bail through a bondsman instead of depositing their own money.

How Do You Reduce Bond Amount?

You can request a lower bail amount, or argue against an attempt by the prosecution to increase your bail amount. 

A decision on whether to lower your bail amount will be based on:

  • The severity of your offense.
  • Whether anyone was hurt during your offense, and if so, how badly.
  • Whether you are accused of making threats to a victim or witness.
  • If drugs or weapons are connected to the offense.
  • The threat you pose to public safety.
  • Your employment status.
  • Your property and business interests in the community.
  • Your past criminal record.
  • The likelihood of your attendance at all future court appearances.

In the case of serious offenses such as murder, kidnapping, robbery, and sexual assault, the court must find unusual circumstances to justify changing your bails, such as the discovery of new evidence or a change in the facts of your case.

Can Judge Deny Bail?

The court can deny bail in cases that involve serious violent or sex crimes. In these cases, the judge will make a decision about whether to deny bail based on several factors. 

If you are presumed guilty of such a crime, and there is convincing evidence that you might hurt someone if released, the judge may decide to deny you bail. 

Can I Be Released Without Bail?

You can be released without bail if you are being charged with a minor crime or non-violent misdemeanor offense. This is called being released on your own recognizance.

 If you are deemed low risk, the judge can decide to release you on your own recognizance even if there is a set bail amount associated with your charges. 

The decision of whether to release you without bail will usually take into account:

  • Your charges.
  • Whether you are a first-time or repeat offender.
  • Whether anyone was hurt or threatened.
  • Whether you are a danger to the public.
  • If you are deemed likely to run.
  • Your connections in the community.
  • Your financial ability to make bail or pay bond premiums.
  • Your criminal records.
  • Any outstanding warrants.

 Bail Work in California

How Can I Post Bail?

Most people post bail by getting a bond from a licensed bail bondsman. This usually involves making an upfront payment to the bondsman of up to 10% of the total bail amount

In many cases, a bail bondsman will ask you to agree to additional requirements to ensure that you do not run before putting up your bail, such as wearing an ankle monitor. In general, the higher your bail amount, the more measures a bondsman will want to put in place to cover themselves. 

Bail bond companies will also often offer lower premiums to people who are taking steps towards preparing for court, as this shows they do not intend to run. For example, it is common for people who have contracted a criminal defense attorney to pay lower bail premiums than those who have not yet done so.

Once you have made the payment, or someone else has paid it for you, the bondsman will deliver your bail bonds to the court. When the court receives your bail bond, they will release you from custody. The whole process can take anything from 30 minutes to about 4 hours from securing the bond to getting out of jail.

How Does Cash Bail work?

Cash bail means getting released from jail by depositing the full bail amount in cash. If you don’t show up to any of your future court appearances related to the case, you won’t get the money back. If you attend every appearance, your bail deposit will be returned to you within 2 to 3 months. 

You will have to prove that your bail money was obtained legally, and you can be denied the opportunity to post cash bail if there is suspicion that you will pay bail with unlawfully obtained money. 

If you are accused of involvement with a profitable criminal enterprise, for example, there will be a high degree of scrutiny applied to any funds used to secure a cash bail. If bail can be obtained through a bondsman, this can draw less attention and suspicion that you are simply paying to get out and run.

How Much of Bail Must be Paid?

The full bail amount must be secured before you will be released from custody, either deposited in cash or through a bond. Bondsmen will usually ask you to pay up to 10% of the bail amount before they will deliver the bond and get you out of jail. This amount can increase or decrease according to your flight risk and the bail amount.

Do you Get Bail Money Back in California?

All of your bail money will be returned to you if you attend every court appearance. It usually takes 2 or 3 months for this to happen.

What are the Consequences of Failing to Appear After Bailing Out

Failing to appear in court can be a misdemeanor or felony crime, depending on the offenses you were initially charged within the original court dates. It can also weaken your legal case, and it is unlikely that you will be offered a second chance to be released on bail. Once brought back into custody, you will probably await your court dates in jail.

Failing to appear after posting cash bail means you won’t get your money back, or any property you used as collateral.

If you fail to appear after securing a bail bond, the bond your bondsman delivered to the court will default. The bondsman has 90 days to bring you back into custody to get their money back. This usually means they will contract a bail fugitive recovery agent (bounty hunter) to find you and bring you back.

Visit Individual Jail Pages in Los Angeles

We assist inmates in custody at any of the Southern California jails:

Twin Towers JailLos Angeles Men’s Central JailHollywood Area JailVan Nuys jailPasadena JailBurbank JailGlendale JailLong Beach JailBeverly Hills JailCulver City JailOrange County Central Men’s JailTheo Lacy JailJames A. Musick FacilityOrange County Central Women’s JailVentura County Main JailVentura County East JailVentura County Todd Road JailSan Bernardino West Valley Detention CenterRobert Presley Riverside County JailPitchess Detention Center (Wayside) and Century Regional Female Detention Facility