If you’re charged with a crime in Southern California, getting out
of jail may or may not be easily done. While many suspects arrested for
misdemeanors are released “on their own recognizance” (O.R.),
posting bail may be the only option of getting out of jail for suspects
who are charged with felonies.
Bail is an amount of money that is deposited with the court to ensure that
a defendant shows up for all court proceedings. The amount of bail depends
on the seriousness of the crime, but is also at the judge’s decretion.
The defendant posts bail with, and he/she will then be released from custody.
If a defendant fails to show up in court, he/she forfeits the money to
Defendants have the option to pay their bail in cash; however, many are
not able to do this. Because bail is typically set for tens of thousands
of dollars, it is not uncommon for defendants to seek help from a bail
agent, or bail bondsman, who posts a bail bond for them.
The following are the most common types of bail:
Cash bail – This means that the defendant pays the full amount of bail in
cash—or even by check or credit card.
Surety bond – Also known as bail bond, a surety bond can be used if the defendant
cannot afford to pay his/her bail. Typically a friend or relative of the
defendant contacts a bail bondsman, who is backed by a special type of
insurance called a surety company and pledges to pay the entire value
of the bond. In return, the bail bondsman charges the client a 10 percent
premium and collects some form of collateral (e.g. title to a house, pink
slip to a car, jewelry, or an asset of substantial value).
Property bond – In some cases, a defendant can provide some property to act as
a bond. If this occurs, the court obtains a lien on the property in the
amount of bail. If the defendant fails to show up for his/her court appearances,
the court can foreclose on the property in order to recover the forfeited bail.
Since bail is not considered a form of punishment or a criminal sentence,
someone who pays bail is entitled to have that money returned if the defendant
adheres to all of bail terms and conditions. So if a defendant is released
from custody on bail, the bail will be repaid to the payer once the case
In situations where a defendant is released from custody on bail, but later
fails to appear in court as mandated—or otherwise fails to comply
with any of the conditions the court set forth when granting bail—the
bail amount is forfeited.
For more information,
contact our Santa Barbara criminal defense attorney at
Appel & Morse today.