How to Bail Someone Out of Jail
A person who has been arrested and charged with a crime may be required to post bail before being released from jail or custody. The process of posting bail is also known as posting bond.
Note: In some cases, the sheriff's department releases the defendant from jail without having the defendant post bond only to have bail ordered by a judge at a later court date. These are known as PC 825 release cases. See bottom right of this page for information on PC 825 release.
A bond is insurance that guarantees the defendant will appear in court. If the defendant fails to appear in court, the bond money is forfeited (more on forfeiture below).
Anyone can post bond for another person. There are two ways to post bail or bond. The most common way to post bail is to use a bail bond company; the second way is to stake the entire amount of the bail with the court.
Most people use a bail bond company because bail companies can secure a defendant's release from custody for a small fraction of the actual bail amount required.
When using a bail bond company the bondsman does all the work for the defendant but the bond company keeps a percentage of the bail amount as a fee; this percentage fee is also called the premium. The premium for bail bond companies is usually between five and ten percent (5-10%).
Note: Most bond companies offer discounts to defendants who have retained a private criminal defense attorney.
The good thing about bail bond companies is that the defendant does not have to come up with the entire bail amount. The defendant only needs to come up with the premium, with the balance of the bond being secured by promises or property.
In many cases, the bail bond agency will take payments towards the premium. Also, bail bond companies can accept credit cards or other forms of payment, whereas staking money with the court requires cash, cashier's check or money order.
The drawback to using a bail bond agency is that even if the defendant is found not guilty, or the criminal case is dismissed, the bail bond company keeps the premium.
For example: If the defendant's bail is $100,000, the defendant might find a bail bond agency willing to accept a five percent premium ($5,000). Furthermore, some bail bond companies will take as little as $1,000 down towards that five thousand dollar premium. Thus, in some cases, for $1,000 dollars the defendant can be released on a $100,000 bond. Of course, several factors will need to come together for this to occur, such as having a criminal defense attorney already retained and using the right bail bond agency.
The benefits of staking the entire amount of the bail with the court is that the defendant may be entitled to a return of the entire amount staked if he or she does everything the court orders him or her to do, namely appear in court at every hearing. The drawback to staking the entire bail amount with the court is obvious: you need a lot of money.
Most crimes are bondable offenses, except crimes for which the death penalty may be sought, I.C.E. hold immigration cases, and cases where the defendant has an active warrant or is otherwise in violation of probation.
Note: Immigration cases may require a separate federal bail bond. The Department of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a division of the Department of Homeland Security. ICE agents can hold a non-U.S. citizen in local jail even if the defendant has otherwise secured a bail bond. The ICE hold is lifted for inmates only after they obtain a separate immigration bail bond. Thus, sometimes, immigrants accused of crimes who intend to bail out of custody before their court date must secure bail...twice.
The amount of a bail bond that is required is first set by the arresting officer. The bail amount is predetermined by an established bail schedule.
For example, in San Bernardino County, the established bail amount for the crime of criminal threats [PC 422] is $50,000; for prostitution [PC 647(b)] is $5,000, and so on. Possible Enhancements to a criminal charge do not affect the bail schedule setting by the arresting officer. However, later, at court, the District Attorney may request an increase in bail based on an enhancement to a criminal charge. To learn how a crime might be enhanced, please contact the criminal defense attorneys at Dorado & Dorado at 909.913.3138.
The bail process takes a few hours at a minimum. Once the defendant's friend or family has hired a bail bond company the bondsman will deliver the bond to the jail. If the defendant has not yet been booked into the jail he or she will be separated from other inmates and then held separately until the bail bond process is completed. Booking the prisoner is the process of collecting statistical data about the inmate and assessing his or her risk level.
Note: If a defendant bails out of jail before his or her first court appearance (arraignment), the defendant's right to a speedy arraignment is waived and the defendant's original arraignment date is usually changed. The new court date is usually listed in the defendant's bail bond paperwork.
Modifying the Bail Amount:
As stated, the arresting officer sets the bail amount according to the county's bail schedule. Sometimes this amount changes before the defendant gets to court because the district attorney added or subtracted criminal charges or enhancements. Therefore, despite the fact that the arresting officer initially set the bail amount, the correct bail amount will be ordered by the judge at the defendant's arraignment.
If the defendant has already bailed out of jail on the amount set by the arresting officer and the DA adds criminal changes or enhancements, the defendant may need to post additional bail to remain free on bond.
Note: In cases where the defendant's bail is increased after the defendant has already bailed out of jail, the judge might allow the defendant to remain free on bail bond in the amount already paid so as to avoid economic waste. This argument, along with any argument concerning the defendant's danger to the community, risk of flight, and other bail factors, should only be made through a competent criminal defense attorney through noticed motion.
If the DA subtracts criminal charges or the judge allows the defendant to be free without bail or bond (own recognizance release [O.R.]) then the defendant is not entitled to a refund from the bail company for the amount unnecessarily paid.
For example, if the arresting officer set the defendant's bail bond at $100,000, and the judge allows the defendant to be released on his or her own recognizance, which means a release on promise of good behavior and without the need for a bail bond surety, the defendant is not entitled to a return of the premium paid to the bail agency.
It may be possible to lower or reduce the defendant's bail to an amount below the bail schedule. This is accomplished through a bail hearing where the judge considers the defendant's danger to the community and risk of fleeing the court's jurisdiction, among other factors. Of course, the DA may also ask for an increase in bail based on the same factors. The DA may also request an examination of the source of funds used to post bail or bond if the DA believes the money used to secure a bail bond was gained through illegal methods. This happens mostly in drug cases or gang cases.
Exonerated, Forfeiting, & Reassuming Bail Bonds:
When a person appears in court for every court hearing after bailing out of jail the judge may exonerate the bond. To exonerate a bond means that a bond is no longer required and the defendant will remain free on his or her own recognizance. This usually happens when a DA or judge lowers a criminal charge to one that does not require a bond or when the defendant has not violated any terms of bond release and a year has expired without resolution of the defendant's criminal case (bail bonds expire after a year from the date of purchase).
When a person does not appear in court as promised, or has committed a violation of a condition of bond release, such as leave the state of California, the bond may be forfeited. To forfeit a bond means the defendant will be taken into custody, or a warrant for the defendant's arrest will issue, despite the fact that the defendant already paid the bail.
To re-assume the bond means that the bail bond was forfeited for some reason but is later reinstated by a judge. This can occur when the defendant's bond is forfeited due to the defedant's failure to appear in court, but later, the defendant appears in court with a very good excuse for why he or she did not appear at the earlier court hearing.
To learn more about how to bail someone out of jail in San Bernardino or Riverside county, or information on local jails, including phone number, address, and visiting hours, please contact the dedicated criminal defense attorneys at Dorado & Dorado, APLC, or visit any of the following sites listed on the right column of this page.
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For information on inmates in local jails, including criminal charges, visiting hours, phone number, address, and how to put money on an inmate's books, please visit:
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PC 825 Release Cases
In misdemeanor cases, a person is usually cited by an officer. The citation indicates that the defendant is ordered to appear in front of a judge at a later date to answer for the criminal charge in the citation. In misdemeanor cases where the defendant is arrested, the defendant is usually released on his or her own recognizance after being booked (or sober in DUI cases). This means that there is no bail bond necessary to insure that the person will appear in court as indicated on a citation. In misdemeanor warrant cases the defendant is usually held without bond until the first appearance in court (arraignment).
In felony cases, the arresting officer sets the amount of bail according to the bail schedule (See left side of this page for more information on bail schedules).
Despite the fact that the defendant has a bail, he or she may be released by the jail without paying the bail indicated. This happens in a few cases where, after an analysis by jail officials that:
- the defendant's criminal charge is not severe, and
- the defendant's personal and criminal history indicate that he or she is not a flight risk or danger to the community, and
- the jail is impacted or over-crowded with more serious criminal offenders, or
- the sheriff's department has failed to bring the defendant to jail within 48 hours of arrest (excluding holidays and weekends), or the district has failed to file criminal charges within that time (PC 825).