Bailing someone out of jail in California: 3 starter questions

Bailing someone out of jail in California can seem like a daunting process. But with a little research and the right people at your side, posting bail in California can be a relatively simple experience.

To help you understand the process better, here are answers to some frequently asked questions regarding how to post bail in California.

Can you bail yourself out of jail in California?

If you’ve never been arrested before or if you’ve never known anyone who has been arrested, then even “common sense” facets of bail may not seem so “common sense.” So don’t feel embarrassed if you’re asking yourself the question, “Can you bail yourself out of jail in California?

To answer the question, yes — you can bail yourself out of jail. If you have the means to do so, then you can. However, in many cases, this is very difficult. Bail can be a rather large dollar amount, and people won’t always have this amount of cash ready at a moment’s notice. This is why bail bonds exist.

When you turn to a bail bondsman in order to post bail, they’ll look at a few different things:

  • Credit score
  • Job history
  • Residence 
  • Offense

If the bail bondsman reviews this criterion and determines you are unable to sign for the bail bond on your own, you will need to find someone who is able to meet that criteria on your behalf.

Do you get your bail money back in California?

What happens to your bail money after everything is over? Do you get it back or is it gone forever?

You’ll be happy to know that you actually do get your bail money back in California. 

Let’s say you pay cash for your bail without the help of a bail bondsman. Your bail amount should be released and mailed back to you after your disposition. In some cases, they may keep a small portion of the bail amount for miscellaneous fees.

However, if you do not make all of your court dates, your bail amount (or property) will likely be forfeited. This also includes if someone else (such as a friend or family member) pays the bail for you.

If you did work with a bail bondsman to post bail, the bond amount will still be returned, and if you put up any collateral, it will be released. The only thing you will be responsible for is the bond fee charged by the bondsman, which is typically around 10% of the full bond amount.

What can be used as collateral for a bond?

If you are unable to post bail yourself and you need to consult a bail bondsman, there are a few different types of items you can use as collateral for the bond.

Here are some examples of bond collateral:

  • Property: examples of property include homes, land, equity in your mortgage, and livestock
  • Vehicles: examples of vehicles include boats, trailers, trucks, and SUVs
  • Valuable Items: examples of valuable items include jewelry, laptops, gaming systems, and precious stones

Still have questions about bail bonds in California?