How Bail Works

In the state of California, the County magistrate is responsible for determining the standard uniform bail schedule for their county each year. The county’s uniform bail schedule sets the bail amount for a specific crime. Set bail amounts for the same crime can change from county to county as well as their charge level (infraction, misdemeanor or felony) and their eligibility for release. Bail is the security that the jail and courts require for an individual to be released from their custody while dealing with their court matter. Bail is a financial guarantee that the defendant will appear to each and every court date.

When a person is arrested and taken to jail, the jailer assigns the arrestee a bail amount(s) based on the crime(s) that the person is being accused of committing. Once an arrestee has been fully booked into custody and cleared a background check, the final bail amount will be set. This is the amount required for the individual to be released from custody.

How bail works?

There are two ways to post bail for release. The jail will except cash bail which is the entire bill amount in an acceptable form. Some jails have a limit on personal checks and require a cashier’s check to ensure the funds are available. Most jails will not accept cash however some will. When trying to post cash bail it’s always recommended to check with the jail prior to trying to post cash bail.

In California, most people use a bail bondsman to post the bail due to the large bail amounts. When someone hires a bail bondsman to post bail, the bail agent is the one who puts up the entire bail amount in the form of a bail bond. The bail bond guarantees that the individual will appear in court on each court date. In return, the bail agent may hold on to collateral to guarantee that the individual will appear in court. In the state of California, the department of insurance regulates bail agents to charge no more than 10% of whatever the given bail amount is for an arrestee. Once the completed paperwork is filled out the bail agent will turn the bond into the jail and the arrestee will be released shortly there after. After the defendant has appeared to all her court dates in their court matter is resolved, the cash bail or bail bond will be returned to the person who posted it with the jail.

In some cases an arrested will be detained, booked into jail and released on their own recognizance without having to post bail. They will still have to appear in court on their court date however, they will not have to post bond to be released. Nonviolent crimes such as DUI may be eligible for release without bond. Typically, felonies and violent crimes will require bail to be posted for release. Jail procedures may prevent some individuals based on the crime the allegedly committed. For instance, some jails require all DUI offenders to post bail.