Man with hands sitting on jail bars

Bail bonds in California

Man with hands sitting on jail barsBail bonds provide a way for a defendant to get released from jail pending his trial, without having to put up the full amount of the bail ordered by the court. A bail bondsman will post a bond with the court which guarantees payment for the full amount of bail if the defendant does not show up every single time the court requires him to.

Bond Process

Before posting the bond, the bail bondsman will enter into a contract with the defendant, a friend or a relative which guarantees the full amount of the bail, plus the payment of any expenses the bondsman incurs if he has to pay the bail and then locate the defendant, if the defendant ever misses a court appearance. The costs and the security for the bail bond depend on all of the circumstances and can vary widely. Generally, bail is available for all crimes except for murder, although it is not mandatory for a court to grant bail for any crime.

The cost of a bail bond is fixed by law in California at 10% of the amount of bail, for all types of bail bonds for criminal charges. This includes DUI bail bonds and domestic violence bail bonds. For example, the cost of a bail bond where the court has ordered $25,000 bail is $2,500 dollars.

Anyone who offers a criminal bail bond at less than 10% is breaking the law. Some bail bondsmen offer financing, bonds with no security, or other means of easing financial hardships.

Immigration Bail Bonds

Immigration bail bonds are governed by Federal law and are not included in the 10% cost structure fixed by the State of California. For immigration bonds, a bond must be lodged with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), and there are two types – a delivery bond which guarantees that the illegal immigrant will turn up for all immigration hearings, and a departure bond which guarantees that he will leave the country. The minimum for a delivery bond is $1,500, and the minimum for a departure bond is $500. Depending on the flight risk, the amount can rise substantially, to $10,000 or more.

An immigration bail bondsman will post the bond with ICE, in return for being paid his fee. The process is much the same as for a criminal bail bond discussed at above. Because the charge for an immigration bail bond is not regulated by law, the costs can vary widely. Fees as low as 2% up to 20% have been advertised, with some companies charging a fee for the annual renewal of the bond. Because these costs can vary so widely, it is extremely important to deal with a reputable bail bondsman, to shop around to compare prices, and most importantly, to make certain that everything is understood.

As technology makes its way into more and more aspects of society, online bail bonds are starting to appear. Generally, this involves someone from the bail bondsman’s office meeting a client with his laptop and taking care of all of the formalities electronically.

California Bail Bonds

California has a more structured bail bond program than many states, and the vast majority of bail bondsmen are honest, reputable companies. The circumstances when a bail bond needs to be arranged are naturally very stressful, and people can be very emotional. The most important thing to remember is to make certain that everything is understood, and not to rush into anything in order to get the process finished. Ask questions, get help or take along a friend. If the stress gets to be too much, take a break for 30 minutes and go for a walk. The 30 minute break won’t matter. If everybody is on the same page, the chances are much better that a stressful situation will get resolved in the best way possible.

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