It is relieving to have someone by your side after being arrested to help in your release from jail. If you are in Alameda County, CA, Exit Bail Bonds can initiate this process by posting your bail. We give you affordable and fast bail bonds services in addition to informing you of important aspects of bail bonds as follows.
What is a Bail Bond? Getting Down to the Basics
A bail bond is a formal document that allows a release from jail for a person being detained on suspected charges. It is a written agreement among the defendant, the court, a bail bonds agent, and a cosigner declaring that the cosigner will make sure the defendant meets the court’s conditions on bail release. Some of the requirements that a defendant should comply with include attending all compulsory classes, meetings, and court hearings. Moreover, the agreement states that the accused will pay a certain amount of the bail and the bail bond agent will clear the remaining amount.
California has a mandated fee of 10 percent of the bail amount for people who seek bail bonds services. This fee is neither negotiable nor refundable, but a bonds agency may give you a reduced rate under its discretion.
The Relationship Between the 8th Amendment and Bail Bond
According to the 8th Amendment of the US constitution, every citizen has a right to post bail and be released before their court hearing. This allows them to continue with their usual daily activities before their trial date. As a result, the defendant must pay a fee as a percentage of the bail amount, which normally varies depending on the severity of the crime.
The 8th amendment prohibits the charging of excessive bail on criminal defendants. An excessive bail amount depends on the financial resources available to the defendant. The 8th amendment, therefore, places a responsibility on courts to set bail at an amount that will ensure the defendant's appearance in court but is within their financial capabilities. Such control allows all criminal defendants a fair chance at pretrial release.
Serious offenses attract a higher bail amount. And if the offense committed is very severe then, there is a possibility that no bail will be issued and the accused will be remanded until the date of their trial. Other reasons for the court to deny bail are the fear that the defendant will harm themselves or others if allowed to leave the jail or if the defendant is considered to be a flight risk.
Setting the Bail Amount
The court is responsible for setting the amount of bail. Factors that are considered in setting the bail amount include:
- The bail schedule: California maintains a bail schedule that consists of a list of crimes and their respective bail amounts. The judge will decide whether to set the amount as provided in the bail schedule or at a higher or lower level.
- The circumstances of the crime: serious crimes will likely attract higher bail amounts
- Your criminal history: if you have a criminal record, your bail amount is likely to be higher than that of a first time offender for the same crime
- Your ties to the community: if you are in good standing with the community, you are likely to be charged a lower bail amount or released on own recognizance
- Your employment status, which determines your ability to pay the required amount
- Bail algorithms
California recently passed a bill to eliminate cash bail in favor of releasing defendants based on algorithms starting in October 2019. Bail algorithms are advanced mathematical methods of determining the amount of bail a defendant should pay.
Bail algorithms are designed to provide an objective evaluation of the defendant's possibility of repaying bail amount and their flight risk. The algorithms take into account age, the criminal charges, your criminal history, and your court attendance history.
When the court approves your request for release on bail, it may set additional conditions, which you have to meet. These may include:
- Obeying the law
- Abstaining from alcohol and drug use, and attending a drug or alcohol program
- Staying away from certain locations and people
- Seeking and maintaining employment
- Adhering to a curfew
- Complying with travel restrictions
- Not possessing weapons
- House arrest and monitoring
Violating these conditions can result in your arrest, bail revocation, charges for contempt of court, and increasing the bail amount. In some cases, the court may give you a warning.
If you violate bail conditions such as contacting the victim of the crime and threatening them, the court may revoke your bail, and reduce the chances of getting out on bail again.
Types of Bail Bonds
There is a wide range of bail bonds to choose from. The specific type of bail you choose will depend on factors such as the type of offense, the required bail amount, and your current financial situation. Below are examples of bail bonds available in Alameda County, California:
- Surety Bonds
Also known as a bail bond, a surety bond is the most used type of bond. This is because it can be available in any amount especially if the defendant can’t afford to pay their bail. It involves a consigner entering into an agreement with an insured bail agent (bail bondsman). The cosigner must first pay a premium fee before the defendant is set free.
- Cash Bail
Here, the accused pays the bail in full. It can be by cash, check, credit card or traveler’s check. Cash bail is usually expensive for most people. It is both an unexpected expense and a high amount to raise. To those who can afford cash bail, their money is released at the end of the criminal proceedings, whether they are convicted or not.
- Property bond
The defendant gives their property to act as a bond. In such cases, the court gets a legal claim over the asset. If the defendant fails to show up for the court hearing, the court can foreclose the property to recover the forfeited bail.
- Federal bail bonds
Federal bail bonds are secured by a defendant suspected of committing a federal offense like armed bank robbery. These bonds are more expensive than bail bonds for charges prosecuted in California.
- Immigration bonds
Foreigners charged with offenses in the US should secure immigration bonds. The process of securing these bonds can be complicated because of the high chances that the accused would never get back to the country to face their pending charges.
The Bail Application Process
If you have never paid bail before, you are likely confused and unsure of how to proceed. The first step involves contacting a bail bonds agent. Choose a bail bonds company that will meet your needs, is affordable, has no hidden fees, and has positive reviews from past clients. You may also ask your friends or your attorney for a recommendation.
Once you have settled on the best bail bonds agent, ask them relevant questions such as how long the bail will take, the costs, the collateral needed, and your responsibilities as the cosigner.
The bail agent then prepares the necessary paperwork, makes payment to the court, and the defendant is released from custody.
The bail bondsman will require you to submit the collateral whose value is equal to the bail amount. In addition, you will have to deposit a 10% down payment. A 10% down payment is the standard fee charged by most bail bonds agents in California.
Collateral includes property, jewelry, and vehicles.
If you are bailing a defendant out, you have to be aware of your rights and responsibilities as a cosigner. Your rights and responsibilities include:
- You have to ensure that the defendant shows up for the appointed court hearings
- Ensuring that the defendant refrains from breaking the law and that they do not break the release conditions
- You have to provide proof of residency and income
- You have the right to put stipulations that the defendant has to adhere to such as attending a drug treatment program
- You have the responsibility of keeping track of all the court proceedings of the defendant to ensure that they are attending all their hearings, and to learn when the criminal proceedings end
- You have the right to cancel bail if you feel that the defendant is likely to skip court
When the cosigner cancels bail, you will either go back to jail, find a new cosigner, or raise the bail and collateral yourself.
Bail Payment Procedure
Bail payments are made to a cashier or clerk in jail or courthouse. The payer should provide the clerk with essential information like the defendant’s name, booking number, and the bail amount. Normally, the clerk has access to this information, therefore, you should submit the correct bail amount.
As soon as you make the payments, the clerk’s office notifies the correction officers who release the defendant from jail. In some cases, the release can take place almost immediately if the clerk’s office is located within the jail or when the correction facility is not busy; while in other cases, it may take hours.
Typically, bail payments are made in cash or other accepted payments like credit cards, traveler’s check, money order, or cashier’s check. Accepted payment methods differ with courts.
What Happens to the Bail?
Bail is not a criminal sentence and you are entitled to have your money back provided that the defendant complies with all bail conditions. There are two outcomes when you pay bail: the bail is returned back or is forfeited.
- Bail Release
Bail is repaid to the payer once the case is closed. The repayment of the bail mainly depends on the kind of bail used and the jurisdiction in which it was paid. It can take two to six weeks.
If the release takes more than six months, you should follow up with the court. In order to get help from the court staff, ensure you communicate effectively and have relevant information like your name, address, case number, and conclusion date.
- Bail forfeiture
In the event that a defendant misses a scheduled court date, it is referred to as a jumped or skipped bail. The presiding judge issues a bench warrant for their arrest and gives them a specific amount of time for them to return; otherwise, their bond will be forfeited. With a bench warrant, you can be arrested during an encounter with a police officer like a traffic stop or road accident.
If you appear in court, the bond can be reinstated provided you have a good reason for missing court. If you don’t appear, the whole bond amount will be forfeited. Then, your bail bonds agency will pay the whole amount to the court and then collect it from your co-signer.
The prosecutor can also file ‘’Failure to Appear’’ charges against you. Generally, these charges match the severity of the first offense. For instance, if you are charged with a felony offense, failing to attend a court hearing will result in another felony charge besides increasing your penalties.
Getting Your Bail Money from a Bail Bond Agent
When you use a bail bondsman to post bail, you must pay bondsman fee as well as provide collateral. If you comply with the court’s conditions, the bond agent should return the collateral once the case is concluded. However, the agent’s fee is not returned.
Frequently Asked Questions on Bail Bonds
- What happens when you are charged with a crime?
Do you know you can be charged with a crime before you are arrested? If this happens, the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest and the police will locate you. Once arrested, the police should issue you with a copy of the warrant stating why you have been arrested.
The next step is booking. During the booking process, your personal information, charges, fingerprints, photographs, description, and other background checks are registered with the arresting agency.
- What are the main elements of a bail bond application?
To complete a bail bond application, a bail bondsman will need information like the defendant’s name, address, place of employment, contract number, place of arrest, and bail amount. If the co-signer doesn’t have some of the defendant’s information, the bail bond agency should contact the court and find the missing details. You will also be required to give your personal information as a cosigner.
- What is Forfeiture?
In simple language, it is the deprivation of a right as a result of failing to honor the obligations or conditions in the bail bond agreement. When a bail bond is forfeited, the court deprives you of the right to bond and the bail bond is repaid in full to the court. Even if the bail bonds agency locates and surrenders you to the court, the entire bail bond must be paid. The bail bond agency will pay the amount and then look for your co-signer to recover the losses.
- How long does it take for bail to be forfeited if the defendant skipped bail?
More often than not, the court will give the bail bondsmen two to four weeks to find and surrender the defendant before the bail bond is forfeited.
- When should you post bail?
There are many factors that need to be taken into account before deciding whether to post bail immediately or to wait. It is advisable to consult an experienced lawyer before deciding.
- What happens if a bail bond is revoked?
Did you know a bond can be revoked by the bail bond agent, the co-signer, or the court? This happens if they find out you are violating the terms and conditions on the bail bond agreement. Immediately, the revocation papers are filed, the bail bond agency will be notified and a bench warrant will be ordered for your arrest.
Finding a Bail Bond Agency Near Me
If your loved one has been arrested? It is time to get them out and assist them to fight for their rights. For many years, Exit Bail Bonds has helped people in the Alameda County area to get reliable and quick bail bond services. We understand what you are going through. Count on our professionals to provide bail bonds for any crime and guidance throughout the process in a friendly and compassionate manner. Call us at 925-549-9844 any time and we will be glad to serve you.