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What is Bail in California?

What is Bail in California?

When people are arrested, and charged with a crime, it can be pretty tempting for some to flee the state or even the country to avoid prosecution. To prevent this from happening, the criminal courts require that criminal defendants pay “bail” before they can be released.

“What is bail exactly?” Bail refers to money or property that an arrestee (defendant) has to provide to the court; it’s the defendant’s way of promising to appear in court at all future court dates. When a judge decides to set an amount for bail, he or she will take the following into consideration:

  • Is the defendant a flight risk? For example, is the defendant a Mexican or Canadian citizen and will he or she flee to their home country to avoid prosecution?
  • Is the defendant dangerous to the community? For example, if the defendant is accused of raping a young child, he or she would likely be considered a grave risk to the community.
  • How serious was the crime? Generally, the more serious the crime, the higher the bail amount. A murder charge will incur a much higher bail than say, auto theft.

How Bail in California is Paid

In the California court system, bail can take different forms. It can be paid in cash. If the court allows it, it can be paid through a pledge of property. Or, it can be paid through a bail bond. In that case, the defendant secures bail through a professional bail bondsman.

If a professional bail bondsman is used, only a portion of the bail set by the judge is required and typically the bail bondsman is paid 10 percent of the bail amount. The bail bondsman promises the court that if the defendant fails to show at future court appearances, he or she will pay the remainder of the bail amount.

If the case is dismissed or if the defendant wins or loses and he or she is sent to jail or prison, the bail bondsman releases the property that was used to secure the bail. And, if a defendant pledges any real estate for a bond, it’s important that he or she have the bondsman release the lien as soon as possible.

Related: Will a Conviction Bar Me from Possessing a Firearm?

Have further questions about bail in a California criminal case? Contact the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed today.

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