Santa Rosa Jail (Sonoma Main Adult Detention Facility)

Deep in Sonoma County and fifty-five miles north of San Francisco, Santa Rosa, California, is home to those who love wine, redwood forests, and the wonderful Peanuts characters, for this was also the home of Charles M. Schultz, who created Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and all the gang. With a population of more than 170,000, Santa Rosa also has a large city jail, which is the main adult detention facility for Sonoma County.

The California Department of Corrections handles criminal cases, which includes infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. The least serious of these offenses is an infraction, such as being caught not wearing a seatbelt, which is not considered a criminal offense and generally gets only a fine. A misdemeanor may involve actions such as drunk driving or speeding that may merit a fine, not more than $1,000, and even some jail time, which is served in the county jail rather than state prison. The most serious offense is a felony, such as murder, rape, or robbery, which is punishable by up to a lifetime in prison or death.

With the assumption that no one incarcerated in the Santa Rosa Jail really wants to stay there, it is safe to say that bail bonds and bail bondsman are important parts of business in the facility. A bail bond is a guarantee, posted by the licensed bondsman, that the person charged with a crime and released on bail will return to court at the specified date for a hearing. The bondsman guarantees the money, known as a surety bond, and for this service usually charges 10 percent of the total bail amount. The California Department of Insurance sets the rates, and the money is non-refundable. The bonds are good for one year.

What happens if the person charged does not show up in court at the specified date? The bail bond money is forfeited, and a bench warrant, which is an arrest, goes out to pick up the missing person. If he or she is not found within a specified period, the next step is a search by a bounty hunter, who is legally licensed and may either own or work for the bonding agency.

The bail bond is the most common way to get out of jail in Santa Rosa. A cash bond, which covers all of the bond money, can also be delivered to the court for release. For a person who is regarded as only a slight risk, such as someone charged with a non-violent offense and has no criminal record, an O.R., release on own recognizance, may be granted. A citation, or Cite Out, which works much like a traffic ticket, may also be used. The person charged does not go to jail but must appear in court at the specified time.

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