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July 9, 2023  |  Posted by jesse  |  Bail Bonds

If you are arrested in the State of California, it’s very likely that using a bail bond will be the most practical way to secure your freedom between the booking and trial date. Before arranging any agreement with a bondsman, though, you need to find the answers to several questions. Asking “How much does a bail bond cost?” should be at the very top of your agenda.

It would be easy to fall into the trap of ignoring the financial aspects when you’re in custody and want a quick release from jail. Nonetheless, you need an affordable solution that will not have a detrimental impact on your life over the coming months and years. Here at Balboa Bail Bonds, we offer a range of bail bond services in San Diego County and the wider region of California. Understanding the costs involved will allow you to make a calculated decision and secure your freedom with 100% confidence. Here’s all you need to know.

Is a bail bond the same as posting bail?

First and foremost, defendants should understand the bail bonds process in California. When you are arrested in the Golden State, it could take up to 30 days before your trial begins. However, the majority of defendants (there are a small number of exceptions) are entitled to post bail and avoid unnecessary time behind bars.

Posting bail is when you pay a fee to the California Courts in exchange for your freedom until the trial date arrives. It will allow you to continue your life as normal while also preparing your defense for court with an attorney. As long as you attend all required court hearings and satisfy the other bail terms, the fee will be returned – minus fees – 30 business days after the trial. However, it should be noted that posting bail usually costs tens of thousands of dollars and can potentially become a six or seven-figure fee.

The main difference between bail and a bail bond is that when posting bail, you will need to find the bail cash yourself and will be responsible for your subsequent court appearances. Conversely, a bail bond is when you hire a third-party bail bondsman – like Balboa Bail Bonds – to pay the bail charge and take on the financial obligations on your behalf. 

There are pros and cons to each option. The primary benefit of using a bail bonds service in California is that you will only need to pay the bondsman fee (also known as a premium) other than the full cash bail figure. While the premium is not returned, it is a cost-effective and convenient option that also promotes limited financial exposure. 

So, how much does a bail bond cost in California?

Posting bail via a bail bondsman is often the most effective way to secure a quick release from jail, especially when you don’t have access to the level of funding needed to post bail on your own behalf. Still, knowing how much a bail bond will cost you is vital.

In the State of California, a bail bond premium figure is set to 10% of the total cash bail amount. Balboa Bail Bonds is a registered bail bondsman service in the Golden State that uses this same calculator to set our service charges. So, rather than a set fee, your bail bond costs will be determined by the bail fee that is set by the courts. Here are some example bail bond charges for reference;

  • If your bail fee is set to $10,000 our services will cost you $1,000.
  • When a bail figure is set to $25,000 our services will cost you $25,000.
  • If the bail fee is set to $1,000,000 our services will cost you $100,000.

It should also be noted that the premium bail bond cost is a one-off fee that is based solely on the cash bail fee. While your premium will not be returned, the fact that you will not lose money due to court fees or other costs that would be encountered when posting bail for yourself. 

Furthermore, Balboa Bail Bonds offers transparent services with no hidden fees or interest rates. If your bail bond premium is $1,000, for example, that is the only fee you will encounter to secure your release from jail. In addition to affordability, then, it is a route that offers clarity.

How will I know how much bail will cost in California?

Knowing that the bail bondsman will charge a premium that’s equivalent to 10% of the total bail fee will help you understand the costs of using a bail bond. However, the information only becomes relevant when contextualized by the fee set by the California Courts. 

Bail is offered following the bookings process. The bail fee is largely determined by the severity of the crime, with misdemeanors carrying a lower cash bail fee than felonies. Some jurisdictions in the Golden State have set bail figures for specific crimes but there are a variety of other factors that could influence the bail amount, including;

  • The defendant’s past criminal history.
  • Whether the defendant is already on bail for another crime.
  • Whether the defendant is considered a flight risk, meaning they are likely to flee.
  • The defendant’s family circumstances.
  • Whether the defendant has a connection to the community.
  • Whether the defendant is considered a risk to the public.

As well as cash bail, some defendants may be offered the opportunity to use a property bail agreement in which real estate is used as collateral. In rare cases, an unsecured bond in which no money is exchanged unless the defendant fails to meet their bail clauses may be offered too. 

Ultimately, though, each person’s bail fee – and, therefore, bail bond figure – will be determined by the circumstances of their case. In cases where bail is set to $500 or under, the bail bond figure is $50, which is the lowest amount that can be charged. 

A brief history of California’s bail bonds system

The Bail Bond Regulatory Act was established in 1937 and is regulated by The California Department of Insurance (CDI). They define a bail bond as a “surety bond, which is posted by a bail bond company to the court as a guarantee for an arrestee’s appearance at all court dates” while also stating that bail bonds should be “underwritten and issued by licensed bail agents which act as the appointed representatives of licensed surety insurance companies”.

In short, bail bonds are only offered by registered and licensed services like Balboa Bail Bonds, which will respect the various regulations including the 10% premium figure. 

The cash bail system was declared to be “unconstitutional” in 2019 by the California Court. The California Money Bail Reform Act subsequently set out to protect defendants by ensuring that setting cash bail demands beyond the accused party’s capabilities. While the bill originally targeted zero-dollar bail for all misdemeanor and felony offenses, it has since been amended to remove references to this.

Why are bail figures set so high?

While the changes have looked to put an end to favoring the wealthy and punishing defendants that cannot afford to pay, there are still many situations in which paying the bail amount becomes difficult. They include;

  • Capital is tied up in assets, meaning the defendant would spend an unnecessary amount of time in custody before the cash becomes available.
  • They cannot access funds due to being in custody and do not have any loved ones that can take care of the assignment for them.
  • They simply do not have the amount of money or cannot afford to wait weeks to have it returned by the courts.

It’s important to remember the reason why bail fees are set too high. Ultimately, the courts do this to serve as a deterrent to defendants that may have considered taking flight. After all, nobody will want to lose the tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of dollars that were used to post bail.

If you do not have the money for bail or want this level of financial exposure, there are several possible options. Remaining in custody is one, but using a bail bonds company remains the most beneficial. 

However, passing on the financial obligation does not mean a defendant can flee. A bail bonds company can only offer the service with a premium of 10% because individuals accused of crimes attend their hearings. If a person flees, the bail bonds company has the right to take the necessary action to bring them back to the courts and surrender the bond. 

This is because the defendant’s failure to satisfy their bail terms could see the bail bonds company lose the full bail figure that they have posted on the accused’s behalf. For the agreement to remain mutually beneficial, defendants should treat the bail amount as if it were their own money.

What if I can’t afford the full bail bond amount?

Opting for the bail bonds route instantly turns a $100,000 financial commitment, for example, into a $10,000. However, that is still a significant amount of money to find, particularly if you have been arrested outside of standard banking hours. Worse still, making financial arrangements when you’re in custody is very difficult while every minute spent behind bars could potentially have a detrimental impact on your life.

Here at Balboa Bail Bonds, we are a compassionate team of bail bondsmen that understand how stressful and challenging this situation is for defendants and their families. And our experts are committed to making the bail bond process as convenient as possible by offering a wide range of financing and repayment plans. So, not having access to the full bond amount today needn’t stand in the way of your freedom.

Flexible financial repayment plans can be tailored to suit your personal situation. In some cases, it will be possible to arrange a plan with no money down, no collateral, and no interest fees. However, the majority of our clients do pay what they can afford today before clearing the remainder of their balance with weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly payments.

When using bail bonds on financing agreements, some credit checks will be required. Meanwhile, larger bail bonds may need some form of collateral, although this is only necessary in a small percentage of cases. Either way, the streamlined approach ensures that the offer can be confirmed ASAP. When combined with our proactive bail payment processes and strong connections with judges across all counties in California, you (or your loved one) can be out of jail within hours.

A recap of bail bond costs in California

If you have been arrested in the State of California, bail bonds offer a variety of benefits including reduced stress, faster releases, and full confidentiality throughout the process. Moreover, they help you bypass any issues related to the affordability of posting bail in the Golden State.

To summarize, when asking “How much does a bail bond cost?”, the key factors to remember are;

  • The bail bonds company will charge a non-refundable 10% fee in exchange for posting the full bail amount on your behalf.
  • Bail bonds do not have to be paid today. In many cases, defendants pay just a few hundred dollars now before clearing the balance over the months to come.
  • There are no hidden fees, interest rates on agreed repayment plans, or charges added to the one-off cost.
  • Some discounts may be available depending on individual circumstances to reduce the bail bond cost further.

If you require the help of a bail bond company to secure your quick release from jail, Balboa Bail Bonds is here to help. Whether you’ve been hit with a five, six, or seven-figure bail fee, we can post it quickly on your behalf while our strong connections with courts and judges throughout California will often lead to a streamlined process too.To find out more and arrange your bail bond agreement in California today, get in touch with our friendly experts now. From free quote to freedom, we’re on your side.