When an individual is arrested for a crime they are taken to either City jail or a County Jail. They are booked into custody, and a background check is performed to make sure that individual does not have any outstanding warrants or is wanted by law enforcement elsewhere. If the background check is returned with no issues, bail is set by the court, usually by a magistrate or other official. The booking process in a city jail is usually 1 to 2 hours whereas a county jail usually takes 4 to 6 hours but can take three times that.
Most all individuals arrested and booked into a city jails will be transferred county jail fairly quickly. They are transferred to county jail for housing and to appear in court. This means they will be booked twice and have transporting time as well. If a bond is not quickly posted in the city jail and they have begun to transport the individual it can easily take eight plus hours from time of transport for their booking to be complete allowing a bond to be posted.
The amount of the bond will depend on many factors, including the severity of the charge and previous history of the defendant, as well as other basic information on the current status of the defendant (job history, family situation, living arrangements, etc.).
Each year a State bail schedule is set with a bond amount for each crime. This schedule along with factors listed above is how the bail amount is set. Once bail amount is set the defendant now has the ability to post a bond to get out of jail while awaiting trial.
Option # 1: You can post the full amount of the bond with the court. This is the cash bond form of secured release. This means that if the bond is $ 20,000.00 you will have to deposit that amount. It is easy to see why this option is not very popular, since most individuals do not have the financial resources to come up with that much cash quickly.
Option # 2: Post a bond through a bail bond agent. In this scenario, the defendant pays a nonrefundable fee—like an insurance policy premium—to the bail agent (typically 8 – 10% of the bond amount) along with providing proof of assets or collateral equal to the full bond amount. Collateral is not always needed depending on the cosigner’s information. The bail agent enters into a contract with the defendant (and the family members/friends) who must co-sign on the bond, which states that the defendant, upon release, promises to make all court appearances until the court legally declares that the case has concluded.
Qualifications for bonds are not just based on credit report as many people believe. They are based on several things such as who co signer for the defendant will be, job history length of time, income, if there will be more than one co signer, how long you have lived at you residence, history in city or county. You do not need to own property. Collateral is not always needed.
The Process of getting a bond posted is as follows.
- Call a bail bondsman and give them the full name and date of birth of the person in jail.
- The bondsman will get the inmates booking information for you which should be their booking number, bond amount, charges, court date. They will then call you right back.
- The bondsman will talk with you briefly discussing who the cosigners will be and gathering some information about them
- This is the time to discuss all payment possibilities and options. The bondsman will not be able to give you a clear answer on you bond costs until all cosigner and or collateral is considered. However you should get a cost based on the prequalification discussion that will allow you to know if you want to move forward with this company. Generally the more quality cosigners and/ or collateral will make the bond less risky and ultimately getting you a better cost, lower payments or less money as a down payment.
- Now the cosigners will fill out applications for the bond. These forms will either be made available by the bond company on their website, emailed to you or faxed to you to fill out in the privacy of your home. Once they are filled out they will be printed, signed and either faxed or emailed back to the bonds company.
- Once bondsman has approved the application and a payment option has been agreed on it is time to make deposit. The approval should be very fast on most bonds.
- Payment can usually be made in several forms. Although cash will have to be delivered, credit and debit cards are usually accepted over the phone.
- Once agreed payment has been made the bondsman will now have the bond posted with the jail or court.
- Release time is always different. City jails will usually release the defendant in a little as 30 minutes whereas county jails are a minimum of 4 to 6 hours. Release times are not up to the bail bondsman ever. The bondsman posts the bond and the release time is entirely up to the jailer. It can depend on several things that could be happening in the jail. How busy they are, what jails man power on schedule is at that time, if there has been any lock down or problems in any section of the jail, amount of people being booked or released at that time. Generally county jail releases in about 6 hours but release has taken 14 hours as well.
What is the difference you should look for in a bail bond company?
- Clear explanation of what forms you will be filling out and the responsibility associated
- No Haggle Pricing once you have submitted you cosigner information
- Payment Plans that work for you
- Is there interest on payments?
- Clear explanation of terms and costs
- Is there an annual renewal fee (bonds expire 1 year)
- What happens if there was an accident and I didn’t make it to court on time? Will they rewrite the bond or forfeit you and take you to jail? What are the costs?
- Do they write Prop 103 Bail Agent Commission Rebates?
Choose your bondsman wisely! The bond company is ultimately responsible for you showing up to court. They assess risk and have the right to surrender you at anytime no questions asked. Your money will not be returned unless you go to a hearing in court and win it back. This can be a huge hassle and be distracting in an already difficult time and leave you posting and paying for another bond in the mean time.