If you are unfamiliar with bail bonds, a bail bond is a contract between the accused and a bail bond agent. Under the contract of the bail bond the accused is making a promise to appear in court when ordered to do so and as a result of that promise the bail bond agent promises that they will post bail for you. Bail bonds in California are regulated under Penal Code 1276. In most instances those who are arrested and charged with a crime will choose to post bail through a bail bond due to the fact that they may not have enough cash available to post cash bail.
Typically, the more serious the crime the higher the amount is for bail. However, in some situations bail may not be set at all and the accused will have to remain in police custody. The Constitution of the United States and California mandate that your bail must be reasonable, however, the judge has the discretion to determine what is reasonable based on several factors when deciding whether or not to grant bail and what the amount bail will be. These factors include, but are not limited to:
- The type of criminal offense
- Your personal history
- Prior arrest warrants (if applicable)
- Whether or not you pose a significant flight risk – a flight risk typically refers to someone who is likely to leave the country before a trial or bail hearing
In addition to promising that you will appear in court as ordered you will also have to pay the bail bond agent a premium which is typically 10% of the bail amount set by the court. The premium for your bail bond is non-refundable, however, in certain situations it may be possible to pay a lower percentage. For example, if an attorney referred you to a specific bail bond agent you may be offered a lower premium as a result, typicall 8% instead of 10%. For example, if your bail is set at $100,000 you would be financially responsible to the agent for the total of $10,000 which is 10% of $100,000. However, if you were referred by an attorney to a bail bond agent and were offered a discounted premium of 8% you would be responsible for $8,000 which is a savings of $2,000. As you can see, utilizing the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney may not only help you with your case, but it could possibly save you money too.
Failure to appear in court
As the defendant if you fail to appear in court the bail bond agent will forfeit the bail money. Because of that, bail bond agents typically work very hard to ensure that you make your court appearance as ordered. If you fail to appear in court the agent will be responsible for finding you. This is typically where “bounty hunters” come into play, or bail enforcement agents as they prefer to be called. Bail enforcement agents are employed to track down those who “skip” bail. Bail enforcement agents receive a commission, typically based on the bail amount, for finding those who skip bail.
Because the bail bond agent is responsible for finding you, in addition to the bond amount they are putting up on your behalf, the agent will typically require some sort of collateral. Collateral may come in many forms, including: house, car, jewelry, property, or other assets of value that you own. If you fail to appear in court as scheduled this collateral will be used to cover the forfeiture of the bail amount that was posted by the bail bond agent.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can not only help you potentially reduce the percentage you need to pay for your bail bond premium but can also work with you to ensure that your legal rights are not violated. If you have questions about bail bonds or would like to schedule a free initial consultation contact us today at 559-222-5800.