What is Bail?
Bail is some form of capital which is deposited or pledged to a court in order to convince it to release an accused from a jail facility, on the understanding that the accused will return for trial or forfeit the bail ("skipping bail" is also illegal). Depending upon the court involved and the crime(s) of which one is accused, bail is not always available. It can be legally denied for an offense / charge which the governing legislature has determined to be non-bailable.
Once someone is arrested on a criminal charge, they may be held for trial unless they furnish the required bail, often in the form of a bail bond. When a bail bond is issued, the person released promises to appear in court at the designated time and place. If the person released on a bail bond fails to appear in court on their designated appearance date, the bond becomes payable and is forfeited as a penalty. For this reason, a bond usually requires some type of collateral such as cash, title to real property or other types of security.
It is important to note that only a person holding a bail license may solicit the negotiation of a bail bond. Remember, Bail Agents are here to help you through this process.
When an individual is arrested for a crime in the State of California, most often that person will be taken to a local law enforcement station for booking, prior to confinement. Once the Defendant has been arrested and booked, they have several options provided to them for release - provided the outcome of the case supports their release - They are:
TYPES OF BAIL
In this instance, an individual must post with the court, the total amount of the bail in cash. This strongly incentives the defendant to appear in court as scheduled as non-appearance results in the forfeiture of the cash bond.
This process requires a contractual undertaking guaranteed by an insurance company which has the assets to fully satisfy the amount of the bail bond. The insurance company contracts with the Bail Agent, and the Bail Agent then assures that he will re-pay the bond if the defendant fails to appear on his schedule court date. Because the Bail Agent has promised his own money, he has a vested interest in ensuring that the defendant will in fact appear in court as scheduled. Bail Agents invests the necessary time and funds required to locate and return an individual who has not honored their commitment to appear in court. It is widely held that Bail Agents have highly effective and efficient methods of ensuring a defendant is in court as scheduled.
Individual may secure release from custody by posting a property bond with the court. In this instance, the court records a lien on property, in the amount of the bail. If the defendant subsequently does not appear in court on the scheduled date, the court may initiate the foreclosure process in order to procure the forfeited bail amount.
Own Recognizance (O.R.)
Based on a telephone interview with defendant, the staff member of a pre-trial release program will attempt to determine if individuals in custody will in fact appear in court on their scheduled appearance date even without the strong motivator of financial forfeiture as incentive.
A Citation Release, or "Cite-Out" as it is commonly known, is issued to the defendant by the arresting officer typically right after the individual is arrested. Since the defendant may not actually placed in custody, the court depends solely on the integrity of arrestee that they will voluntarily appear in court on the scheduled date.
HOW BAIL IS SET
The amount of the bail is first and foremost within the scope and discretion of the judge or magistrate, with only two general limitations: First: The purpose of bail is not to penalize or punish the defendant, but only to secure the appearance of the accused, and it should be set with that in mind. Second: Excessive bail, not warranted by the circumstances or the evidence at hand, is not only improper but a violation of constitutional rights. In fixing the amount of the bail, the court takes into consideration the seriousness of the charge, the defendant's previous criminal record, and the probability of the defendant appearing at the trial or hearing.
Additionally, if public safety is an issue, the court may make an inquiry where it may consider allegations of injury to the victim, danger to the public and/or to the defendant him/her self, threats to the victim or a witness, the use of a deadly weapon, and the defendant's use or possession of controlled substances. A judge or magistrate setting bail in other than a scheduled or usual amount must state on the record the reasons and address the issue of threats made against a victim or a witness. The court must also consider evidence offered by the detained person regarding ties to the community and ability to post bond. The bail amount set by the court must be within the minimum range amount of bail that would reasonably assure the defendant's appearance. NOT the Maximum!
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