March 26, 2010 By Wallin & Klarich

There are 3 ways in which to “post bail” in California for someone who is in jail. This article is designed to explain these options to you and provide you with how “bail works” so you can make an informed decision on making bail and helping to get a loved one out of jail as soon as possible.

In every county in California, the judges must, by law, prepare a “bail schedule” for every crime that exists in California. This bail schedule determines what the initial bail amount will be in every case. When a person is arrested by law enforcement (when the person is not arrested on a warrant) the police officer determines what crimes he or she “believes” the accused will be prosecuted for. Then he lists the crimes that the accused is being charged with and the original bail amount is set based upon the bail schedule for that crime.

A person is legally entitled for a bail amount to be set in almost every type of case in California. There are a few exceptions. If the crime is one for which the accused could face the death penalty, then no bail is permitted. There are few other exceptions. In some cases, the accused may be on felony probation and he is arrested for a felony probation violation. If this occurs, many counties in California require the accused to be placed on a “no bail hold”, meaning he cannot post bail until he appears before a judge.

The amount of bail that is originally set when a person is arrested will depend on the number of criminal charges, and whether the police officer recommends filing the case as a felony vs. a misdemeanor. Bail can range from as low as $500.00 for some minor misdemeanors to as high as $1,000,000 or more. It is important to contact a San Diego criminal defense law firm as soon as you hear that a loved one has been arrested before you make any decision on whether to post bail and if so in which manner to do so.

Why should I contact a criminal defense lawyer before doing anything else?

  1. A criminal defense attorney can quickly determine how much it would cost to make bail in your loved one’s case.
  2. A criminal defense attorney can explain to you all of your different options as to posting bail.
  3. In some cases, a criminal defense attorney can speak to a “detention release officer” and attempt to have the bail lowered or have the accused released without the need to post bail (called release upon his own recognizance). This can save you thousands of dollars.
  1. If you retain a Southern California criminal defense attorney, soon after a loved one is arrested, that entitles you to a “discounted” bail fee of 8% vs. the regular 10% bail bond fees (See part two of this article for more information on this.)
  2. The person who has been arrested is often very frightened. You will want a criminal defense attorney to go speak to him/her immediately and tell him/her NOT to speak to law enforcement. It is critical that the accused speak with an attorney so we can get his or her “side of the story.” The information we receive will better prepare us to know how to properly defend him/her.
  3. A criminal defense attorney can begin to prepare for the bail hearing, which takes place in most counties within two court days of the defendant’s arrest (if he doesn’t bail out before then).

At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in handling all types of criminal matters. Posting bail is one of the very first steps of the process, but it is very important to start things off correctly. The bail information you just read should help you make an informed decision if a loved one has been arrested. Call us today at (888) 280-6839 or visit us on our website at We will be there when you call. Later today, you can read more about your different options in posting bail.

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