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What is Bail in California?

Often, when people think of an arrest, they picture the defendant handcuffed and jailed until their trial concludes and the defendant is found “guilty” or “not guilty.” While that happens sometimes, that’s certainly not how it always happens.

In many cases, a suspect is arrested and formally charged with a crime. The judge sets a bail amount and if the defendant can manage to pay it, he or she is released from custody until their case is resolved in criminal court. This allows defendants to continue working and to be home while they’re case is pending in the courts. This also saves tax payers money because they don’t have to pay to incarcerate all arrestees while they’re waiting to go to trial.

How Bail or Bond Works

The California Courts defines bail or bond as, “money or property that a defendant puts up as a promise to return for future court dates.” When the judge sets the amount of bail, he or she will weigh several factors, such as the severity of the crime, whether the defendant is a flight risk, and whether the defendant is a danger to the community.

Three ways bail can be paid:

  1. Bail can be paid in cash.
  2. Bail can be paid with a pledge of property, but only if the court approves.
  3. It can be paid with a bail bond, which only requires a portion of the bail amount set by the judge. Typically, the defendant pays a bail bondsmen 10% of the bail amount, and the bail bondsmen promises to pay the court the rest of the bail if the defendant fails to appear in court.

Suppose a defendant fails to appear in court because he ran off to Mexico to avoid prosecution. In that case, the bail bondsmen would have to pay the full amount of the defendant’s bail to the court.

If anyone pledged collateral or cosigned property, such as their home to secure the bail, they can be sued by the bail bondsmen for the money the bondsmen had to fork over to the court. Thus, it can be very risky for a friend or family member to post bail for someone, especially if there’s a possibility that the defendant will go on the run and not show up for their scheduled court appearances.

To learn more about bail or bond in Orange County criminal cases, contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. All of our initial consultations are free.

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