Bail Bonds: An Overview of How They Work
Securing Release on Bond in Los Angeles
If you are charged with a crime, the court may release you on your “own recognizance,” commonly known as “O.R.” release. In this case, the court allows you to be free from custody without the requirement of setting bail.
If an “O.R.” release is denied, the court must set bail with very limited exceptions. The amount is set at the local court’s “scheduled bail.” The court may deviate from these amounts if requested by either party. The exceptions where a court may deny bail primarily consist of capital cases involving charges that carry the death penalty.
When the court sets bail, the charges are considered to be true. There are two criteria the court considers if they deviate from the scheduled amount. These include:
Flight risk: The court will consider whether the accused will return for future court dates. The judge reviews the person’s ties to the area, whether there are any warrants from prior cases, and your general standing in the community.
Danger to the community: Here, the court considers the person's prior record and may even look at the facts of the case.
If the judge sets bail in your case, you can post a bail bond either as a “cash bond” or through a “bail bondsman.”
If you are able to afford it, you can post the entire bail amount to ensure your appearance in court. If you make all your appearances, at the end of the case, this money will be returned to you in full. If you do not return to court on your promise to appear, the bond will be forfeited, and you will not get the money back.
It is possible to get the bail reinstated if there is a good reason for a person’s failure to appear. You do not want to rely on this possibility if you can help it.
Depending on the case, it is possible to attach the bail bond as payment for legal services. If this is the case, you will not need to pay upfront fees. However, the cash bail will be returned directly to the attorney as payment for services.
Posting Bond Through an Agency
The most common method of posting a bond is through an agency. This is because few people have the money to post the full amount requested. A bail bond company generally will require 10% of the bail amount from you, and they post the remaining amount. The negative aspect is that the 10% fee will not be returned at the end of the case.
If you call a bail bond company near you, they will walk you through the process. The agencies generally require the following:
Agent File: The bail bond company will provide the Indemnity Agreement and Bail Application. This needs to be filled out and submitted for review.
Narrative: Put together a brief narrative of the case history and charges you feel applies to the case.
Bail amount: Put together funds to cover 10% of the bail amount, a rate we are often able to reduce. This is the payment for a bail bond company to write and post the bond. You will not get this money back.