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August 1, 2023  |  Posted by jesse  |  Bail Bonds

Until they need to understand it for themselves or to help a loved one, many people don’t give two thoughts to how the bail system works in California. They’re not familiar with bail bonds or how the law works, which can put them in a tricky position when they do need to know more. There are several relevant pieces of law and regulations that govern how bail bonds work in California. These include regulations that California bail bond agents must follow, in addition to laws for anyone who is on bail.

When you are informed about bail bond laws and regulations, you put yourself in a better position to help yourself or someone you care about. Bail bonds help to secure the release of someone who has been arrested and charged. The bail system ensures fairness for anyone charged with a crime, while also making sure they appear in court when they are required to. It’s important to understand how it all works and what the law says if you want to ensure you are being treated fairly and getting the best deal.

Bail Bond Laws and Regulations in California

What Is a Bail Bond?

Bail allows people arrested and charged with a crime to be released temporarily until they are required to appear in court again. During a bail hearing, an amount of money is set that must be paid to secure the person’s release. Its purpose is to guarantee that the person will return to court when required. The money is forfeited if they fail to appear in court, or returned when the trial is over if the defendant appears on all required court dates.

The amount set for bail can vary, but may be tens of thousands of dollars, or even more. With such large amounts of money, many people are unable to pay the full amount in cash. This is where bail bonds come in. A bail bond allows someone to post bail without having to pay the full amount. Instead, they only have to pay a portion of the bail amount as a non-refundable fee and a bail bond agent (or bail bondsman) will cover the rest.

Bail in California

How the bail system operates and is regulated can vary from state to state. Some factors that might be affected by location include the amount of bail that can be set and the maximum amount a bail agent can charge. So it’s important to understand the relevant laws and regulations in California if you are dealing with a legal charge in the state.

In California, there are typically three types of bail. People can post bail in cash, use a bail bond, or choose a property bond. A property bond involves using property as collateral, which must be worth twice the bail amount. The total bail amount can range from around $10,000 to $100,000. Bail amounts are worked out using a defined bail schedule, which uses a range of factors to determine how much the bail should be. These include which crimes were committed, whether a weapon was involved, if there is a link to gang activity, if the crime is a hate crime, and much more.

Relevant Bail Bond Laws in California

There are several relevant pieces of law relating to bail bonds in California.

  • Title 10, California Code of Regulations – the California Code of Regulations contains several laws that regulate bail bond agents
  • California Penal Code – in the California Penal Code, there are numerous laws relating to bail, which apply to bail agents, judges, and magistrates, and those posting bail
  • California Insurance Code – bail agents in California must be licensed and regulated by the California Department of Insurance and are required to follow the California Insurance Code

What does the California Code of Regulations say about bail bonds?

Title 10 of the California Code of Regulations has some key regulations that govern the behavior of bail agents.

  • 2054.4. Payment of Commissions; Unlawful Rebates: Prohibited – this says that only those with a bail license can receive a commission on bail. Additionally, bail bond business owners can’t pay people to refer business to them if those people aren’t licensed.
  • 2071. Suggesting or Recommending Attorney; Prohibited – licensed bail agents are not allowed to recommend attorneys, whether directly or indirectly
  • 2074. Unlawful Solicitations; Place – licensed bail agents can’t solicit people for bail in prison, jail, court, or other places relating to detention and justice

Bail Bond Laws and Regulations in California

What does the California Penal Code say about bail?

The California Penal Code contains some of the most important information about bail, bail bonds, and bail agents in California. The Penal Code sets out laws for how judges should set bail amounts and ensures that the source of bail is examined. It also includes the right to a bail review hearing for all defendants.

Some of the key regulations in the California Penal Code include:

  • 160. (a) – It is illegal (a misdemeanor) for bail agents to pay or solicit jail or prison inmates to solicit business for them
  • 1270.2 – Defendants are entitled to an automatic review of their bail amount within 5 days
  • 1275 (a) – This sets out the factors judges or magistrates must take into account when setting the bail amount, including the seriousness of the offense, previous criminal record, and probability of flight risk
  • 1275.1 – A judge or magistrate must examine the bail before accepting it to make sure that it has all been received legally and legitimately.
  • 1376.5 (a) – If a lien is placed on a property when it’s used for collateral, the property owner must sign a statement to confirm they understand that the bail will be secured against their home, and they will be given a copy of the statement. Bail agents must present this statement to be signed.
  • 1300. (a) – A bail agent can choose to surrender the defendant back into custody if they can show they have just cause within 48 hours. If they can’t show just cause, the judge can order a part or all of the premium to be returned to the defendant or whoever paid it.
  • 1303 – The bail bond is automatically exonerated 15 days after the first court appearance date if there is no complaint filed against the defendant during this time when they are out on bail.

Relevant Bail Bond Laws in California

How does the California Insurance Code govern bail agents in California?

Bail bond agents must be licensed and follow the California Insurance Code. The Code includes regulations that ensure bail agents can’t advertise or solicit without a license and that they advertise ethically online.

When advertising online, bail agents need to provide key details of who they are and their license. When you are looking for bail agents, make sure that they clearly display their name, the state where they are based, and their license number. This information helps you to determine whether they are legitimate and following the rules for bail bond agents in California.

Bail Bond Agent Licensing in California

There are regulations for bail bond licensing in California, which define who can be an agent and what they must do to maintain their license. In addition to being 18 years old or older and a resident of California, they must complete at least 20 hours of pre-licensing classes, as well as pass an examination. Agents must pay for a two-year license and renew it when required to keep their licensing up to date.

There are also some different rules for corporations, as opposed to individuals getting their licenses. The business needs to be in California and every employee has to have their own bail bond agent license. The business also needs to report any changes in stockholders or officers to the California Department of Insurance.

Bail bond agents must follow a code of ethical conduct, fees regulations set by the California Department of Insurance, and financial requirements that show they are financially stable.

How the Bail System Works in California

The bail bond process in California involves several steps. Firstly, the defendant is arrested and goes through the booking process. During this stage, they will have their personal details recorded and will also undergo a background check, and have their fingerprints taken. After they have been processed, they will attend court for a bail hearing. At the bail hearing, a judge will decide whether they should be granted bail and, if so, how much the bail should be. The judge will use the bail schedule to determine how much the bail should be, based on the crime, the risk of the defendant fleeing, and the safety of the public. In some cases, the defendant can be released on their own recognizance. This means there is no bail set because the court is satisfied that the defendant will appear in court.

After the bail amount has been set, the defendant may have several options to pay it. The main options available are to pay the bail amount in cash, to use property as collateral, or to use a bail bond. To use a bail bond, there is usually a fee of 10% of the total amount, although this can be less. The bail bond agency will then secure the remaining amount and assumes the responsibility of making sure that the defendant appears in court.

Once bail has been posted, the defendant should be released. This could take a few hours but could be as fast as 30 minutes. How long it takes depends on how busy the jail is, the staff available, and any circumstances that might complicate matters.

How the Bail System Works in California

Consequences for Failing to Show Up in Court

Bail is posted as a promise that the defendant will show up in court. If the defendant fails to appear without a valid reason, otherwise known as skipping or jumping bail, there are serious consequences. It may be a criminal offense, and an arrest warrant can be issued for the defendant. Additionally, bail bond agents are interested in apprehending the defendant so that their skipping bail doesn’t impact them. Many bail agents use bounty hunters, who pursue and apprehend defendants when they skip bail to ensure they appear in court.

When a defendant skips bail, the bail amount paid by them or their family won’t be returned. This means that either cash or property may be at risk if the defendant fails to turn up to court. When a bail bond is used, the bail agent will have to pay the full amount of the bail.

In addition to having financial consequences, skipping bail can also have legal consequences for the defendant. It can hurt their trial and may mean that additional criminal charges are added.

How to Avoid Bail Bond Scams

Finding the right bail bond agent is essential if you want to ensure you can post bail quickly and cover the required amount. It’s crucial to look for a reputable, licensed bail bond agent or agency. You can find that there are always people trying to scam you or offering services unscrupulously, so it’s important to know what scams to avoid.

Some common scams include people acting as agents without the correct license, illegal solicitation, and spoofing websites. Keep in mind that all individual agents and bail bond agencies need to be licensed by the California Department of Insurance. They should display their license number on their website so that you can see that their license is up to date. You can check the license number against the Department’s database on their website.

Remember too that bail bond agents are not allowed inside jails, police stations, or courts. Avoid any agents that visit you without your consent and other inmates who recommend or may even try to force you to use a particular bail bond agent.

Another thing to watch out for is fake websites that pretend to be official jail or government websites. This is illegal and you should avoid giving these sites your details. Be sure to double-check the URL and the security certificate for the website.

Bail bonds help to make sure everyone receives a fair trial. However, everyone should be familiar with how they work and the rules surrounding them. Make sure you use a licensed California bail bond agency like Balboa Bail Bonds.