March 26, 2010 By Wallin & Klarich

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.

Every day our law firm is asked by our clients whether they should post bail for a loved one or “wait until they go to court.” This decision must be made in consultation with an experienced criminal defense law firm. We have been helping our clients make this decision wisely for over 30 years. There are many factors to be considered in making this decision including:

  1. What is the current charges and current bail amount?
  2. Does your criminal defense lawyer believe the District Attorney will file more or less serious charges at the arraignment? This may impact the bail amount.
  3. What type of local contacts does your loved one have?
  4. What type of prior criminal record, if any, does your love one have?
  5. How many character letters and character witnesses can our clients’ family provide us quickly so we can present them to the judge at the arraignment?
  6. What are the overall “chances” of the bail going higher or lower at the arraignment?
  7. If the accused bails out quickly, that often will give our law firm several weeks to work on the case and attempt to speak to the District Attorney about lowering the charges or possibly not filing them at all. If a person does not bail out, the prosecutor has to quickly make the decision on whether to file or not and they often files more serious charges. Are you willing to take this risk?

By now, it should be clear why it is critical that you retain a criminal defense attorney in Southern California to assist you before you make any decision as to whether you should bail a loved one out of jail. It is also important to determine which mode of bail you should post. The decision can literally impact the rest of the accused’s life. In addition, it can in many cases save you thousands of dollars. Wallin and Klarich has been helping people accused of crimes determine whether they should post bail, and if so in what manner they should do so. This is a skill that require years of experience handling criminal cases and knowing how bail works, how the prosecution in each county works, and what is likely to happen when your loved one goes to court. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to “do nothing” and allow your loved one to appear at his arraignment without having retained an experienced criminal defense law firm. When this happens, the court almost always keeps the bail the same (or often raises the bail) and once bail is set at the arraignment it is much more difficult to have it reduced.

This concludes our 2-part article on bail. If you or a loved one has been arrested and a decision on bail needs to be made, it is important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in helping people make this important decision. Our attorneys will provide you with the quality representation you deserve. We can provide you with a discount to reputable bail bondsmen. Call us today at (888) 280-6839 or visit us on our website at We will be there when you call.

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