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December 6, 2022  |  Posted by jesse  |  Bail Bonds

Wondering what happens to bail money? Keep reading to learn more.

If you’ve ever had to post bail for a loved one, you’ll know how expensive it can be. Depending on the severity of the offense, you could be looking at a figure as high as $50,000 or a 10% fee ($5,000) to a bail bond company. Of course, as long as the defendant in question shows up in court at the right time and follows the terms of their bail agreement, that is usually the last you will hear about the case. But parting with this amount for even a short period can cause financial difficulties for you and your family.

You may be wondering what happens to the bail money when posted. There are strict procedures that courts and jails must abide by in order to ensure the bail process is fair and legal. The following article takes a detailed look at what happens during the bail process, where your money goes, and if and how to get in back once the court process is complete.

What Happens During The Bail Process?

The bail process begins after an individual has been arrested for an offense and taken to a police station. Once there, they will undergo booking and processing, which can take several hours, after which the bail will be set. The exact figure required to be posted will be dictated by the California Bail Schedule, or the relevant alternative if the crime occurs in another state. 

The bail schedule is a framework established by a panel of judges that provides guidance for setting a bail figure. It allows a jail to set the bail without consulting without the inmate having to see a judge. The bail schedule is based primarily on the nature of the crime in question, but judges can take the defendant’s personal and criminal background into account too. For example, if they have a clean record and a family, they may be more lenient.

Once the bail has been set, it is down to the family, or friends, of the defendant to post the bail. To do this, they will have to visit a local bail bonds agent who will arrange the necessary paperwork and payment. As soon as this has been processed and the money has been transferred, the defendant can be released from custody.

How Much Will the Bail Be?

It is impossible to say exactly how much the bail will be, as it comes down to a huge mix of factors. The bail schedule is the primary source of guidance when setting the amount, as it dictates a guideline figure depending on the severity of the offense and the expected sentence. Fortunately, this information is publicly accessible, and you can read the California Bail Schedule here

However, this document does not provide all the answers, as the final bail amount may depend on the discretion of the judge. If the defendant has a completely clean record and young children at home, they may be less harsh in their judgment. Yet if they have a history of missing court dates and committing similar felonies without remorse, there’s a good chance they will push for a higher number.

Typically, a serious felony may see a bail figure of around $50,000, while less severe misdemeanors like trespass and disorderly conduct might be closer to the region of a few hundred dollars.

Depending on the amount, you may need to seek financial help in order to obtain this money for the bail bond at such short notice. The vast majority of people posting bail have to borrow the cash, either by taking out a loan or visiting a bail bonds agent. The bail bonds agent will post the bail for a fee, allowing you to have your loved one released as quickly as possible.

What Happens to Bail Money?

As soon as you have posted the bail and your loved one is released, the money will be held by the court if you posted cash with the courts, pending resolution of the case. What happens to the money will depend on whether or not the defendant appears in court. If you paid a bail bonds company a 10% fee to post the bail the money is not returned and is fully earned by the bail agent once the bond has been posted. 

If they fulfill the terms of their bail and show up in court on schedule, the money will be returned to the person who posted it, whether that is you or your bail bonds company. If you posted bail through a bail bonds agent, then they will retain the money, and you will only have paid the  small percentage of the total amount that constitutes their fee. If you posted the bail yourself, the entire amount will be returned to you. Whether they are convicted of the offense or the charges are dropped does not make a difference – the bail money will be returned either way.

However, if the defendant fails to show up in court, the money will be forfeited and will be held by the court. If there are extenuating circumstances that have prevented their court appearance, it may be possible to apply for an extension or dismissal of forfeiture so the bond can be exonerated.

How Do You Get Your Bail Money Back?

The only way to get your bail money back is to ensure the defendant shows up in court on the agreed dates. Otherwise the bond will be forfeited. Once they have either been convicted or found not guilty, the money will be returned in six to twelve weeks. When you use a bail bonds company, you will only have to pay a small percentage of the total bail bond.

Get in Touch

If you need to post bail for a loved one in California, a bail bonds company can help you navigate the process and have them released back home as quickly as possible. Balboa Bail Bonds serve the entire state of California and operates 24/7. Get in touch now to find out more about the services we provide and how we can help you and your family today.