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How Does Bail Work In California?

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Most people have only heard of bail bonds through television ads and news reports. If you have ever asked what is bail and how does it work, you’ve come to the right place. Bail House Bail Bonds can give you an easy-to-understand explanation of bail bonds, bail services, and what to expect before, during and after bail is set in the state of California.

It is important that you know how the bail bond process works.  Bail House wants you to know your rights before you need to. That is why we provide bail bond information for free and are available anytime to answer your questions. Knowing how bail bonds work may help you procure releasement from jail sooner, giving you much needed space and time to seek legal counsel while also being able to provide for any loved ones.

Bail House Bail Bonds provides 24-hour nationwide bail services. Should you have any questions regarding how bail bonds work while reading the bond information below, don’t hesitate to contact us any time. We are conveniently located 1/2 mile from Nevada County Jail so we can offer bail services to the Greater Nevada County region. We offer bail bond services in Auburn, Placerville, Nevada City , Sacramento, Roseville, Grass Valley, Truckee, Lake Wildwood, Rough & Ready, Alta Sierra, North San Juan, Lake of the Pines, Cedar Ridge and the outlying rural areas.

AUBURN (530) 823-8340
ROSEVILLE (916) 782-7048
NEVADA CITY (530) 265-0535


What Is Bail?

This is a good place to start when asking how bail bonds work. After all, what is bail and what is a bail bond are questions you certainly don’t want to be asking behind bars.

Bail is a financial arrangement that a bail bonding agency will make on behalf of a criminal defendant. The purpose of the bail system is to guarantee the appearance of a criminal defendant in court. A bail bonding agency, like Bail House Bail Bonds, can arrange to have a suspect released from jail pending the trial in exchange for money or collateral, which may be cash, assets, or a bond. The court sets the monetary value of the bail and the bail bond agency can pay the amount in full or a percentage upfront and the rest at the arraignment. A bail bond, therefore, is a surety that the full bail amount will be paid and the criminal defendant will appear in court on a set date.


When A Bail Bond Is Not An Option

There are instances when bail bonds are not available to citizens. You can only make a bond and be released from jail if you have no other holds or detainers. A detainer/hold is placed on a criminal defendant by another governmental agency which requires the defendant to be held pending clearance of the hold. For example, there may be a warrant placed against an inmate for pending charges from another jurisdiction or even state. Or if a criminal defendant has several unpaid traffic tickets, he or she may be held in jail until they are paid off in monetary or jail time. If the criminal defendant cannot make a bond or does not qualify for pretrial release, he or she remains in jail while the case is pending.


The Bail Bond Process


Arrest And Booking: Pre Bail Services

When someone is arrested on suspicion of a crime, that person will be taken to jail for booking. The suspect will be searched for any weapons, have a mug shot taken, he or she will be fingerprinted, and asked for a statement. The suspect’s personal belongings are catalogued and retained and from that point the suspect has no access to money, credit cards, or cell phones.

The booking process has many steps and can take anywhere from an hour to a few hours to complete. This often depends on the size of the jail and how busy the jail is. The booking process mostly consists of a background check, warrant check, and updating the computer system with the criminal charge and suspect information. Once the criminal defendant or suspect is “processed in” he or she is taken to a cell. This is usually when that infamous “one call” is given to the defendant and it is at this time he or she can request bail services directly from a bail bond agency or ask friends or family to pull together what is needed to post bail.

Acquiring A Bail Bond

A bail bond company is usually contacted by the defendant’s friend, relative, attorney or the defendant himself. Bail services are not able to start, however, until the arrest and booking processes are complete. Once they are completed, the bail bond company will start by collecting basic information about the criminal defendant’s situation. To assess the risk involved in the bail bond, most bondsmen ask questions such as where is the detainee being held, how long have they been there, what are the charges, where is their place of work, etc. If and only if there are no government holds on the defendant and the bail bond company determines there is little or no risk of the bailee not appearing in court on their appointed date, then the bail bond is made available for purchase.

The customer purchasing the bail bond will need to sign bail bond documents including the following:

  • a Bail Bond Application
  • a Bail Indemnity Agreement
  • a receipt

Once the bail bond paperwork is finalized, a licensed bail bond agent will “post” the bail bond at the appropriate detention facility or jail that will result in the release of the defendant. From the time a customer first calls into a bail bond company for bail services to the release of the defendant there is a wait time anywhere between about 20 minutes to two hours so the process of acquiring a bail bond is usually fairly quick. The quicker the better is what the bailees are most likely hoping for so bail bond companies do try their best to get all the paperwork processed and finalized in a timely manner.

What Happens If The Bailee Is A No Show In Court?

The bail bond company who posted bail for a criminal defendant is responsible for ensuring that the defendant appears in court on the day of his or her trial. If the defendant does not appear, then the bail bond company will hire a bounty hunter to track the individual down. The court even gives the bail bond company time to locate the defendant and bring them in.

If you are purchasing a bond on someone else’s behalf, always understand your bail bond indemnitor responsibility before you agree to the bond. If the person you purchased a bail bond for fails to appear in court, the bail bond company will pay you visit, expecting you to know where the defendant can be found. And a bail bondsman may even require your assistance in returning the bailee to court.

By involving friends, family, coworkers, attorneys or possible collateral, the bail bond company can be reasonably assured that a criminal defendant released on a bail bond will appear at their appointed court date. With their money at risk, the bail bond company has a financial incentive in supervising bailees, and that includes supervising any one who posted bail on the behalf of another.


Be Wary Of Bondsmen Offering Cheap Bail Bonds

For all bail services in California, customers are charged a fee which is 8% of the full bail amount. The 8% is mandated by state law so be wary of bail bondsmen offering cheap bail bonds for 5% or less. Since bail bond cost is set by California law, any bail bondsman who charges less than 8% is breaking the law or using unethical means to sell bail bonds.

Bail House Bail Bonds offers payment options to meet your needs and will always work within the law. Unlike other bail bond companies, we don’t use “bait and switch” tactics to attract customers. Instead we tell it like it is and provide our customers with all the information and payment options they need to get a defendant released.

At Bail House we accept cash, personal checks, money orders and all major credit cards. We are conveniently located outside of Nevada City in Auburn so we can offer bail services to the Greater Nevada County region. We offer bail bond services in Auburn, Placerville, Nevada City, Sacramento, Roseville, Grass Valley, Truckee, Lake Wildwood, Rough & Ready, Alta Sierra, North San Juan, Lake of the Pines, Cedar Ridge and the outlying rural areas.