This is the second part of a two part article explaining how bail works in California. The bail process can be intimidating because your loved one is in jail and you may not know what to do or who to turn to for proper advice. There are also several bail bond companies which can make things more confusing. This article will explain the different types of bail bonds available, and how obtaining an attorney is the first thing you should do when someone is arrested. We will now explain the three types of ways bail can be posted in California to have a loved one released from custody.
Cash bail is the easiest way to post bail. However, most people cannot afford this option. If the bail is $50,000, you can go to the local jail with $50,000 in cash or by way of cashiers check made payable to the local county, and you will be given a receipt for the funds. This cash bail will likely remain posted with the court throughout the pendency of the case. Some criminal cases can remain active for more than one year. During that time your cash is “tied up” and held by the county. If your love one fails to appear or the bail is forfeited for any reason, you can lose your $50,000. Of course you also lose any “interest” that you could be earning on the $50,000 if it was invested.
This is the most common way of posting bail. This example is based upon bail being set at $50.000. If you contact a bail bond agent directly (without first hiring a lawyer) you will pay the bondsman a statutory fee of 10% (in this example $5,000). This fee of $5,000 that you pay to the bondsman is his “fee for taking the risk” that if the accused fails to show up, then his bail bond company (or insurance company he works for) will pay the $50,000 to the court. You never get back this $5,000 fee to the bondsman, even if the accused shows up at all court hearings. In addition to the $5,000, most bail bondsman will require “collateral” from you, such as a deed to your home, or “pink slip” to your car or other property that will stand to lose if the accused fails to show up in court when required to do so. If your loved one fails to appear in court, the court will come after the bail bond company for the $50,000. The bail bonds company can then come after you for the $50,000 and can keep the property they are holding as collateral.
If you first retain a lawyer before obtaining a bail bond agent, the attorney can refer you to a reputable and experienced bondsman who will charge you only 8% vs. 10% as his fee. This is called an “attorney referred bond” and in the example above saves you $1,000 in California bail bond fees. In addition, there are many bail bond companies that do not have a very good reputation. Our law firm works with extremely skilled and qualified bail bond agents who we have known for decades and who will provide you prompt and efficient service if a bail bond is needed.
This is a way to post bail that is used very rarely. If a property bond is posted then you do not pay any bail bond fees because you post directly with the court the deed to your real property. The way this works, is if the bail is $50,000, you have to have a recent appraisal of your property that verifies that the equity in your property is worth at least two times the bail amount (so in this example, your property must be worth at least $100,000). The court will then have to “approve” the property bond. If the court does, then you post the property bond with the court and you do not have to pay a bondsman. However, you will have to pay an additional fee to your lawyer for putting this paperwork together. This option can save you money, but it also can take as long as two weeks to put all the paperwork together to get this accomplished. If you have questions about this and you or a loved one does have substantial equity in real property in California, this may be an option to discuss with your Los Angeles criminal defense law firm.