According to the legal principle of presumption of innocence, one is innocent until proven guilty. The principle, which is a constitutional right in most states, is probably one of the most sacred legal principles in our country. The bail and bonds system mainly draws on this principle. In simple terms, bail is a specific amount of money that an arrested person pays to secure their release from police custody as they await their trial date. Regardless of the arrest reason, everyone wants to be released as quickly as possible. While some people are ignorant of the bail process, others are unable to raise the set bail amount. If you are in Santa Cruz, and have found yourself in a situation where you need to post bail for yourself or a loved one, but can’t raise the full amount, don’t worry. Our skilled Santa Cruz bail bonds agents at Exit Bail Bonds are committed to post the required bail amount on your behalf as well as guide you through the bail bond process.
Arrest, Booking, and Processing
It is essential to understand the process or events that precede the bail bond process to know how bail bonds work. Typically, the whole process starts when you are arrested for committing a crime or for being a suspect in an ongoing criminal investigation. In most cases, you will end up in county jail, a police station, or in the sheriff's office. Once you are custody, you will go through the mandatory booking and processing procedure. At this point, the arresting officer will conduct the booking process, which involves:
- Recording all your personal information, including name, date of birth, gender, and other physical characteristics.
- Recording all the crucial information about your alleged crime
- Taking your fingerprints and photographs or mugshots
- Checking if you have any criminal background
- Conducting a thorough search on your person and confiscating valuable personal property such as wallets, keys, and phones.
- Placing you in a local jail or a police station holding cell
Depending on the busyness of the police station, the entire booking and processing procedure can take several hours to complete. However, if you have been arrested for a minor offense such as a traffic violation, you are not required to go through the booking process, and it is not a must for you to pay bail. In such a case, you will only need to sign a written agreement promising that you will attend scheduled court hearings. This form of release is known as a citation release, and in many instances, the arresting officer will not even take you to the station. However, a citation release is the arresting officer's discretion, and whether he/she takes you to the station is up to him/her. In case you fail to sign the agreement, then you will still have to undergo the bail and bond process.
Release on Your Own Recognizance (OR)
Another instance that can lead to an individual’s release from custody without having to pay bail is release on your own recognizance. The difference is that OR has to be granted at a bail hearing and not at the police station or the crime scene. According to California laws, the court may release you on your own recognizance if they are sufficiently convinced that you will break your promise to attend future court hearings. In this case, the court does not require you to post bail and only require you to provide a written agreement that you will honor your promise to attend all court hearings. Mostly, release on your own recognizance covers misdemeanor cases. Since the only concern the court may have is whether or not you will keep your promise to attend future court hearings, you should display a high degree of integrity to qualify for release on your own recognizance.
If, by any chance, you are unable to attend or you intend to miss any court session, you should inform the court beforehand and provide a valid reason. You risk being the subject of an arrest in case you fail to fulfill your promise to attend court hearings. Before a judge grants you a recognizance release, he/she is required to consider several factors including:
- The nature and severity of the criminal offense you have been charged with
- Your criminal background
- Your flight risk
- Whether you pose a danger to anyone who intends to testify in your case
- Whether you pose a danger to the society at large
In case you are not granted a recognizance release, then you will have to undergo the bail and bond process. You should contact a competent Santa Cruz bail bonds agent in case you are unsure whether your case qualifies for a recognizance release or not.
What is Bail?
Bail refers to a set amount of money or funds that the courts require one to pay to secure their release from police custody. In addition to obtaining freedom for the defendant, bail acts as a guarantee that they will honor all scheduled court appearances. If the defendant keeps his/her promise and honor all court appearances, they get their bail amount back. However, if they break the promise, they forfeit the bail amount and are arrested. The amount of bail to be paid by a defendant depends on the nature and severity of their offense. While the law requires you to post bail in most cases, there are some instances where it is not imposed. However, in some exceptional circumstances, the court may also deny a defendant the right to post bail.
What is a Bail Bond?
The bail process in California is under Penal Code Sections 1269, 1276, and 1276.5. According to the law, a defendant can post bail in three different ways, including in cash (PC 1269), in bail bond (PC 1276), or property bond (PC 1276.5). Even though bail amount depends on the crime committed and may vary from county to county, it the court through a bail proceedings that ultimately sets your bail. Once the judge has set your bail, you must pay the full amount or deposit a certain percentage of the bail amount. However, since bail is usually set very high and out of reach for most people, you may be forced to seek the help of a commercial bail bond agent. In this case, the method of paying your bail amount is a bail bond.
A bail bond refers to a surety bond where a bondsman or bail bond agent cosign the bail by guaranteeing its payment on behalf of the defendant. By assuring to pay their bail hence their freedom, the bondsman charges the defendant a nonrefundable fee. According to California laws, the fee amount should not be more than 10 percent of the total bail amount. If you are in Santa Cruz and are struggling to raise the bail amount for yourself or a loved one, a Santa Cruz bail bond will help you, or your loved one gets out of jail.
The Bail Bond Process
Since California bail amounts for different offenses vary from county to county, once you are arrested, it is crucial to have your attorney, a loved one, or a friend review the local bail schedule. Alternatively, they can ask a bail bonds agent to do it for them. If you are in Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County, our Santa Cruz bail bond agents will review the local bail schedule for you and determine the possible amount that the court could ask you to pay as bail. As per California's laws, if your offense is not on the bail schedule, then you can be released without bail. This is mainly if your offense is relatively minor. However, if your crime is on the bail schedule, the court may require you to appear before a judge for a bail hearing.
In some instances, the jail authorities may use the bail schedule to set your bail without first having to appear before a judge. In this case, you can secure your release by paying the bail amount or by posting a bond. However, if the arresting officer were to request the jail to set a bail amount that is higher than what is in the bail schedule, then a bail hearing becomes a necessity. Whatever the case, if you have been arrested for a serious offense, it is more likely that your bail process will involve a bail hearing. In a bail hearing, your bail amount is at the judge's discretion. He/she can decide to increase it, decrease it, or leave it as it is. However, the judge may also choose to deny bail altogether, especially if he/she considers you a flight risk or your charges are for a serious crime.
Following the setting of your bail amount and the judge allowing you to bail, you can post bail to gain your freedom, or you can choose to stay in custody until your case hearing. Very few people voluntarily decide to remain in custody. The main reason most people stay in custody is that they cannot raise the bail amount. Even though the court allows you to bail, depending on the circumstances of your case, the judge may choose to modify the bail amount during your first court appearance. Most cases of bail modification happen after the prosecution presents the court with new information that potentially raises the stakes in your case. In such a case, your defense attorney can challenge a judge’s unfavorable decision by requesting a bail hearing within two days of your first court appearance.
Even if the judge does not modify your bail, you still have the option of requesting a bail hearing within two days of your first court appearance to seek the reduction of your bail amount. Despite the help of a bail bond agency, some people still find issues with the high amount of bail set for their case hence the need to seek a reduction. However, you may have to abide by some routine conditions if the court agrees to reduce your bail amount. Depending on your case, the conditions may include:
- Placed under house arrest
- Banned from leaving the state
- Instruction to wear an electronic monitoring device
- The requirement to wear a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM)
- Surrendering personal documents including your passport and driver’s license
- No contact with the victim
Type of Bail Bonds
Several factors determine the type of bond that is applicable for your case, including the nature and severity of your alleged offense or offenses. Other factors that determine your type of bail bond include your criminal record and the jurisdiction of your arrest. In California, while some types of bail bonds are relatively common, others are used in sporadic cases. The different types of bail bonds include:
- Cash Bonds: In this case, the defendant pays their bail amount in cash or other instant payment methods, including credit and debit card payment. However, this type of bail bond is a reserve for those with sufficient funds, as you will not be able to access your money for some time even after the conclusion of your case.
- Federal Bail Bonds: This type of bail bond applies when you are charged with a federal crime, including armed bank robbery. Compared to Santa Cruz bail bonds or any other bail bond for offenses prosecuted by the state, federal bail bonds are generally more costly.
- Property Bonds: In some instances, you may be required to pledge your property as collateral before you are released from custody. Someone else can also pledge their property on your behalf. While the posted property is in place of cash, it must be at least double the bail amount. Therefore, to be considered for a property bond, the property must have been recently professionally valued or assessed.
- Immigration Bonds: These types of bail bonds are used by foreign nationals who have been charged with crimes in America. Since most of the defendants that are eligible for immigration bonds are in the country illegally, these types of bonds are considered by bail bond agents as high risk. Consequently, they have hence a high fee percentage.
- Surety Bonds: These are the most common types of bonds and involve contracting a bond dealer or agency to post surety bonds on your behalf at a fee. In California, the law has set the fee at a maximum of 10% of the total bail amount. Since the bail bonds agency agrees to bear the risk of you not appearing in court as scheduled, you may be required to deposit some form of collateral in addition to the bail bond fee.
Regardless of the type of bail bond and as part of the bail bond process, once your case ends, your bail bond is exonerated. The exoneration means that you or your Indemnitor, including your bail bondsman or agency, get their money or property back. However, you risk forfeiting your bail if you skip scheduled court appearances or fail to adhere to some other court-based conditions such as not having contact with your victim.
Contact a Bail Bonds Agent Near Me
For most people, being arrested and having to spend time in custody is a nightmare. The situation is further worsened by having to face a complicated and often costly process of getting yourself or a loved one out even for a minor offense. However, there is no need to worry. If you are in Santa Cruz, and need to get someone out of jail, our skilled Santa Cruz bail bonds agents at Exit Bail Bonds will expedite the release by posting bail on your behalf. We will also guide you through the bail bond process. Call us at 951-788-1722 to learn more about our services.