When you face an arrest in California, the court may take weeks or even months to hold your trial. Remaining in a jail cell while awaiting trial is detrimental to your family relationships and work. The court ensures that defendants can secure a release from a pending case by reaching a financial agreement known as bail.
When a defendant posts bail, they assure the court that they will follow through with the court processes until their case ends. For defendants who cannot afford to post the bail amount set by the judge in the initial hearing, seeking a bail bond becomes the only option to secure temporary release.
Bail bond companies, through their agents, offer you the total amount you need and charge a 10% premium as the fee for their service. With numerous bail bond agencies claiming to be the best, choosing the right one could be challenging. At Bail Bonds Company, we understand the urgency of having your loved one home. Our Los Angeles bail bond agents will offer financial aid and expert guidance to navigate the bail process.
An Overview of the California Bail Process
Unless the court releases you on recognizance, there is only one other way a defendant can secure a release from jail. Bail acts as the guarantee that when the court allows you to stay home while your criminal trial is pending, you will not run away from the consequences of your actions. The bail process will begin when a defendant faces an arrest and is booked into jail. Booking involves collecting a defendant’s details and a mugshot.
After the booking, your loved one is presented in front of a judge who determines their eligibility for bail. Bail amounts often differ between crimes. The judge starts a bail hearing by deciding if a person is fit to be out in the community with a criminal trial. Mostly, fugitives of the law and individuals who face capital crimes will be held without bail. If you are eligible for bail, the judge will refer to the bail schedules where an exact bail amount for your crime is listed.
Using the amount on the bail schedules, the court will modify it based on other factors of your case. One of the factors upon which your bail amount is built is your flight risk. The whole aim of posting bail is to prevent you from fleeing while awaiting your trial. Therefore, the court considers all factors which make you a high or flight risk when making this decision.
At the bail hearing, you have the right to seek a bail reduction by proving that you are of good character and have essential things that tie you to the community. Additionally, you can ask to release you on recognizance, meaning you will not pay any money to secure your release. Once the judge settles on a specific bail amount, you can pay it in cash, property, or as a bail bond.
What is the Difference Between a Cash Bail and a Bail Bond?
When the judge sets your bail, you have various options through which you can pay the bail money and secure a release. The most common ways to post bail in California. While most people use the terms bail and bond interchangeably, there are significant differences between these bail payment methods:
Source of Funds
You must present the total amount to the court when you post cash bail. Often, this may be cash from a sale of your assets or borrowed from family and friends. On the other hand, when you opt to post a bail bond, you obtain the funds used for bail from the bail bonds company. Although you must eventually pay a 10% premium fee, the Los Angeles bail bonds company will pay the bond.
When your criminal case ends, and you appear for trial, the court releases the bail money to the payer. If you paid a cash bail, you would collect the entire amount. However, the bail bonds company will collect the bail money from the court for defendants who post a bail bond, but the 10% premium is non-refundable.
Responsibility for the Defendant
When you post cash bail for a loved one or friend, you are responsible for ensuring that they will attend the court proceedings and trial. However, when you seek bail bonds services, the responsibility to ensure that a defendant doesn’t skip bail lies on the bail bondsman. The court forfeits the bail money if a defendant does not go to trial or violates other bail terms.
When using cash bail to secure a defendant’s release from jail, paying the total bail amount is enough to ensure the release. However, with a bail bond, the bail bonds company may require you to provide collateral. Collateral may be a real estate property, a vehicle, or valuable jewelry. An item or property is often only acceptable as collateral if it is 150% of the bail amount. Offering a bail bond collateral ensures that if the bail bonds company loses its money through forfeiture, it can recover it by selling the collateral.
Bail Forfeiture and Exoneration
The legal aftermath of facing an arrest is long and doesn’t seem to end. However, you will face arraignment, and the court will determine your fate. Bail is not a penalty for your crimes. Therefore, you are eligible to recover your bail money if you are found guilty or not guilty of your crimes. When your case ends, there are two outcomes for your bail money, including:
If you appear for all your court proceedings and your case ends either through dismissal or conviction, the court will return the bail money to the payer. You can sometimes request a bail exoneration and remain in jail. Most defendants who opt for this route are sure they will face a conviction, and staying in jail earns them credit for time served.
You can petition the court to release the bail money if used to pay cash bail. If you secure a release on a bail bond, the Los Angeles Bail Bonds Company will collect the bail money and then release the collateral used to secure the bail bond. However, you must understand that the bail bond premium is non-refundable.
The main aim of posting bail is to ensure that defendants are present for their trial. The consequence of missing a trial or violating other bail conditions is loss of the bail money through forfeiture. Before the bail forfeiture, the court issues a warrant to arrest you and take you back to jail. After the re-arrest, the court may require you to post another bail. Bail forfeiture can be involuntary or voluntary:
Voluntary Bail Forfeiture
After the court enters a judgment on your case, fines will likely be one of the penalties after a conviction. You can decide to release the bail money to the court for use to pay the court fines and fees. However, you must understand that the bail money cannot be used if the court orders victim restitution.
Involuntary Bail Forfeiture
If a defendant who is released on bail fails to appear in court or violates a bail condition with a valid excuse, the court could order retention of the bail money. Following an involuntary bail forfeiture, you will not receive the money or property used to secure the bail. It is not uncommon for defendants and their families to lack bail money and seeks bail bond services. If the court forfeits the bail amount paid by a Los Angeles bail bonds agent, you will have to pay the company back.
Before a permanent forfeiture, the court allows the bail bonds company a chance to the defendant for failing to appear. California's most common reasons for nullifying bail forfeiture include a defendant’s death, deportation, or mental incapacitation. If the court doesn’t accept the reasons and forfeits the bail, the bail bonds company will seize the property or item used for bail bond collateral to cover their losses.
If you have posted bail for a loved one or co-signed their bail bond, it would be best to ensure that they appear to court as required by the court. This helps protect your assets. If you are unsure of a defendant’s ability to honor the bail agreement, you can cancel the bail bond and allow them to remain in jail. If you are the person behind bars and need bail, you must ensure you attend all your court dates to avoid forfeiture.
Bounty Hunters in California
When you use a bail bond to secure your loved one’s temporary release from jail, the company shoulders the financial responsibility and liability of ensuring that the defendant honors the bail contract. If a defendant skips bail, the bond agency will lose the amount they posted. However, before forfeiting the bail, the court allows the Los Angeles Bail bonds agent some time to find the defendant and take them back to court. Since the bail bond agents are busy handling bail payments for other defendants, they employ the services of bounty hunters.
A bounty hunter is a private citizen who acts as a private investigator. In California, bounty hunters undergo training and are licensed to find defendants and take them back to court. A bounty hunter's legal duties and limits vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Although bounty hunters can legally arrest you and take you back to jail, they are not allowed to present themselves as law enforcement officers. However, the bounty hunter can carry paperwork and their license to prove they have the permission and authority to take you to jail.
Choosing the Right Los Angeles Bail Bonds Agent
Bailing your loved one or friend out of jail can be confusing and sometimes draining. Therefore, you will need the services of a skilled Los Angeles Bail Bonds agent. Many bail bond agencies advertise themselves while claiming to be the best. However, you must understand that your choice of a surety company can affect your entire bail process. Some of the factors you should look out for when hiring a bail bonds agent include:
Bail Bond Licensing
In California, all bail bond companies and agents must be licensed to provide the services in the state. With a licensed company, you are sure to be in reliable hands. Additionally, the state awards a license to companies and agents with a track record of trustworthiness and competence in the industry.
Arrests happen at all times and sometimes during the night. The longer you wait to post bail, the longer your loved one spends behind bars. Therefore, when sourcing a bail bond from a particular company, you must ensure that they have agents available to help you anytime you need the services. If you make the first call to a bail bonds company and there is no one to answer or respond to, it would be best if you moved on to the next company.
Fair Service Charges
A bail bond is not free. You must be willing to pay a premium for the services. In California, the standard bail bond premium for state court cases is up to 10% of the entire bail amount and 15% for a federal bail bond. Although these percentages may seem small, the bail amounts set for criminal cases in California may be more than you can afford. It is essential to look out for and avoid companies that advertise extremely low premium amounts. There is nothing like a 5% premium fee. A company willing to collect as little as 5% for their services is likely to be unreliable and have inexperienced agents.
In addition to the fair charges, you must work with a company that allows payment plans. A payment plan allows a person who cannot afford the full premium amount to secure a release on a bail bond. With the repayment plan, you can pay the premium in installments. Different companies offer different payment plans, including:
- 2% bail bond. The 2% bail bond option allows you to pay a down payment of 2% of the premium fee and cover the remaining 8% in manageable installments.
- 1% bail bonds. If you are a first-time offender facing a low-level criminal charge, a bail bonds agency can allow you to make a 1% down payment and pay the remaining 9% after your loved one is released from jail.
- 0% bail bonds. By offering collateral for the bail bond, you can secure a defendant’s release before paying the premium.
The Locality of the Company
You should only settle for a company within your locality when seeking bail bond services. Working with a local bail bonds agent makes the process quicker and easier. A company far away may take a while to respond, and the agents may not understand the local courts and jails within your area.
The moments following a loved one’s arrest can make you vulnerable as you want to secure their release as fast as possible. Some bail bond agencies take advantage of this vulnerability to trap you in an agreement that is not in your best interests. The last thing you want to learn is that there are additional costs to your bail bonds agreement.
Before hiring the services of a bail bonds company, you must ensure that they are forthcoming about all their fees. Before signing the agreements, you must read through them to ensure that your needs and the defendant's are met.
Jails in Los Angeles, CA:
Twin Towers Correctional Facility
Men’s Central Jail
Metropolitan Detention Center
Courthouses in Los Angeles, CA
Spring Street Courthouse
East Los Angeles Courthouse
Find a Competent Bail Bondsman Near Me
The conditions in jail cells are not conducive, and your loved one can suffer emotional trauma while awaiting trial. Therefore, when you receive that call where your loved one informs you of their arrest, the first thing on your mind is how to secure bail and ensure their release. While the judge sets the bail immediately after arrest and booking, the amounts may be too high for many defendants and their families to afford. Failure to post bail means the defendant will stay in jail for weeks or even months before their trial begins.
Fortunately, posting cash bail is not the only way you can secure a temporary release from jail in California. You can use a property bond or, better yet, seek the services of a Los Angeles bail bonds agency. Bail bond companies are surety companies that will offer financial help and expert guidance through the bail process at a fee. This lowers the financial burden for your family and secures a fast release. At Bail Bonds Company, we are available to offer quick bail bonds services to all our clients in Los Angeles, CA, to ensure your loved one doesn’t spend a minute more in jail. Call us today at 323-579-1415.