The purpose of bail is to guarantee the arrestee's appearence in court. Bail is not a fine and it has no connection with the guilt or innocence of the person arrested. It will not be used as a penalty if the person is found guilty. You can consider bail as a form of insurance for the court.
When someone is arrested and is eligible for bail, they have two options of bail to choose from. They can either put up Cash Bail with the jail or get a surety bond (Bail Bond) to secure their release. The purpose of bail is to insure the court that the defendant will appear at all of their court dates. If a person doesn't post some form of bail they will remain in jail during their court case and will be bused to and from court when they have an appearence date.
If someone who has posted bail fails to appear at one of their court dates, the court will order an arrest warrant for the defendant, forfeit (cancel) the bail, and demand payment of the bail amount. In the event of a bail bond forfeiture the indemnitor (co-signer responsible for the defendant appearing) will have to pay the full bail amount. If cash bail was used then the court will keep it.
As long as the defendant appears at all of their court dates they can consider their obligation of bail satisfied. The outcome of the trial (not-guilty, guilty, or even charges dropped) is of no consequence and has no effect on the bail.
Here's how a Bail Bond works:
Someone is arrested and let's say their bail is set at $10,000. Bail bond companies charge an industry standard 10% fee that is regulated by the Department of Insurance. The fee for a $10,000 bail bond would be $1,000. We call that fee the bail bond premium. You do not get the $1,000 back. That is the cost to get someone out of jail and has nothing to do with whether or not the person is guilty or innocent. The main purpose of bail is to allow the defendant, who hasn't been proven guilty yet, to be free from jail while their case is ongoing so that they can continue to work, lead their normal life, and prepare their case without being in jail.
Depending on the charge, bail amount, and credit worthiness of the defendant and the indemitor, it may or may not be necessary for us to collect collateral. Collateral is a physical guarantee that the person will appear in court. Collateral may include but is not limited to credit cards, cash, or a deed of trust. After the defendant has appeared at all of their court dates and the premium has been paid in full, the collateral will be returned to the person that deposited it. To expedite the process it is necessary for us to have proof from the court that the case is closed and the bond exonerated. The purpose of collateral is to give the bail bond company added security in the event the defendant fails to appear and the indemnitor refuses to pay the full bail amount. In the event that the defendant flees and the indemnitor fails to pay the collateral will be used to pay the court.
Questions and Answers:
As a Co-signer or Indemnitor, what are my responsibilities?
The Co-signer or Indemnitor is financially responsible for the defendant to make it to all of their court ordered appearence dates. This responsibilty lasts either until the defendant's last court date or the judge exonerates the bail bond. In the event that the defendant fails to appear and has no intention of going back to court, the indemnitor will be responsible for the cost of apprehending the fugitive defendant. If we are unable to apprehend the fugitive defendant the indemnitor will be responsible for paying the full bail amount. If collateral is received it may be used to pay the court if the indemnitor is unwilling or unable to pay the full amount.
Due to the large financial responsibility of the indemnitor you should be sure that the person you are signing for is someone you can trust. If you are signing for someone that is not a relative or close friend, you need to be confident that they'll make to all of their court dates. We want you to be comfortable with your decision to sign as an indemnitor and we're here to help you with any questions you may have.
If I can put up the full amount in cash with the jail or court do I need a bail bond?
No. If you put up cash directly with the jail or court you don't need a bail bond and you won't have to pay the 10% fee. The downside of putting up cash bail with the jail or court is that your money will stay in their custody for the duration of the case and may take 2-3 months to be returned once the case is over. With bail amounts today generally ranging between $10,000 and $50,000 most people will find themselves unable to post cash bail. Release of collateral varies from county to county so a standard release of cash bail is difficult to estimate. If you have more questions about the difference between cash bail and a bail bond we would be happy to help you.
Does the jail accept credit cards or checks for bail?
No. Jails and courts do not accept credit cards or checks. S&H Bail Bonds on the other hand does accept credit cards, checks, and cash. We also can arrange a reasonable payment plan for you.
How long will it take to release my friend or loved one from jail?
Before the jail will begin processing our bail bond the person arrested must have a warrant check. Unfortunately this can take between 2-8 hours from the time the arrestee is booked in. Once the warrant check has been cleared, a local police station will take about 30 minutes to an hour to release the arrestee. Larger facilities like a county jail will take substantially longer. Los Angeles county jail in downtown for example will take anywhere from 4-8 hours to release an inmate. Keep in mind that release times vary from jail to jail and unforeseen circumstances such as understaffing, a high volume of new bookings, or even a jail lockdown will extend the release time. Our years of experience and familiarity with the booking and release process will enable us to give you a better estimate of the release time when it comes time to bail out your loved one.