Porterville Jail (Tulare County Jail)

Porterville in California’s San Joaquin Valley is a gateway to the huge recreational area of the Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. The name of its county, Tulare, is what native Americans called the tall swamp rushes that stretch out into the valley floor. With a population of more than 55,000, Porterville has received $66 million to begin construction in 2016 on a new county jail to house the inmate population.

The Tulare County Department of Corrections handles all types of criminal cases in the area. These include felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions. A felony is the most serious charge and includes murder, rape, and robbery. It is punishable by death or up to a life sentence in a state prison. A misdemeanor is the charge for such actions as speeding, drunk driving, or petty theft. Punishment is usually a fine, up to $1,000, and/or jail time, which is served in a county jail rather than a state prison. An infraction, such as running a red light, is not considered criminal and usually merits a fine.

Bail bonds are a regular part of business at the Porterville Jail. These bonds are guarantees that the charged persons, if released from jail, will return for the appointed court dates. The bond money, known as a surety bond, is guaranteed by the bail bondsman. For this service, the bondsman usually charges a non-refundable 10 percent of the total bail amount. These charges are set by the California Department of Insurance, and the bonds are good for one year. If the charged person proves to be a no-show at the time of the court date, the bond money is forfeited and a call for arrest, known as a bench warrant, goes out. If the no-show cannot be found within a specified period, a so-called bounty hunter is sent to make an arrest. Financial charges against the accused rise according to the time he or she is missing. The bounty hunter, also known as a bond enforcement agent, is legally licensed and either owns or works for the bonding agency.

The bail bond in Porterville and all of California is the most common way to get out of jail. In addition, a cash bond, covering the total bond money, can also be given to the court. An O.R., release on own recognizance, is accepted for those who pose a very slight risk, such as someone who is charged with a non-violent offense and has no criminal record. A Cite Out, which is a citation much like a traffic ticket, may be given to a person who is not required to appear in jail. He or she, however, must appear in court at the appointed date.

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