What is bail?
When someone is arrested for a misdemeanor or felony crime in California, they will be taken into custody, processed, booked and placed in jail. A judge will then set a bail amount, or an amount of money that must be paid to the court in order to be released from jail prior to your court date. Essentially, bail is collateral to ensure that a defendant will appear for their future court dates.
How does a judge determine the bail amount?
Currently, bail is determined by something known as a bail schedule. For certain offenses, there is a set dollar amount that the judge can require for bail. However, the bail amount can be raised or lowered at the discretion of the judge based on the circumstances of the case. Some factors that may impact the bail amount include:
- Criminal history
- Severity of the crime
- Probability of a flight risk
- Ties to the community
- Employment history
A judge can also make other determinations at this time. For example, a judge can release a defendant on their own recognizance, meaning that no bail is set and a defendant is released with their promise that they will return to appear in court. In other cases, a judge may decide to deny bail in situations where a defendant has an arrest warrant in another city or there has been a parole violation.
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Types of Bail
Cash bail: A cash payment made to the court for the total amount. Cash bail can be paid in cash, and in some locations cashier’s checks, traveler’s checks, money orders or personal checks.
Property bonds: The court is allowed to place a lien on property that a defendant owns if they do not appear in court. This can be time-consuming and is used less frequently than cash bail or bail bonds.
Bail bonds: A bail bonds agency will post a defendant’s bail on their behalf for a fee. This is most frequently used because most people do not have enough cash or property to post their own bail.
How do bail bonds work?
After an arrest, a criminal suspect is brought to jail. A judge may set bail based on the county’s bail schedule and other mitigating factors. If a defendant does not have the cash or assets available to post their own bail, they may decide to use a bail bond agency to secure the necessary funds. The bail bond agency will work with the court to have a defendant released from jail, taking on the responsibility for ensuring that he or she will appear in court on the scheduled dates.
In California, a bail bond company will post a defendant’s bail for a non-refundable fee of 10% of the bail amount. If the defendant does not appear in court, the bail bond agency can search for the defendant in order to bring them to court using a bounty hunter. They can also sue the defendant for reimbursement of the bond.
San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney Joni Eisenstein
If you or someone you love has been arrested for a misdemeanor or felony crime in San Diego County, you will need the counsel of an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney. At the Law Office of Joni Eisenstein, our attorney will fight tirelessly on your behalf and provide you the best legal representation possible. With over 25 years of experience in the San Diego courts, attorney Joni Eisenstein can help you throughout the process, from arrest to trial.
Contact the office of Joni Eisenstein today to schedule your free consultation at 760-721-3161.
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