How do bail bond companies work?

bail bonds agent writing on a document

If you want to know, “How do bail bond companies work?”, then you might be facing some sort of legal trouble. If this is the case, don’t worry. Working with a bail bond company is typically a very smooth process. In fact, a bail bondsman can even quicken the process and help you avoid potential issues along the way.

Let’s take a few moments to discuss how a bail bond company works and provide you with additional resources to keep learning.

What is bail? 

Bail is set by the court. It is a dollar amount that the defendant pays. Once the bail is paid, then the defendant can await his or her court date from home — rather than waiting in a jail cell. Bail is typically pretty expensive, especially in California (the average amount is around $50,000), and many individuals awaiting trial cannot afford to post bail on their own (which is why they seek out a bail bond company). 

However, bail is not always a guaranteed thing. In some cases, bail can be denied based on factors such as flight risk, seriousness of the alleged crime committed, and degree of danger to the community.

Additional Resources:

How do you post bail with a bail bondsman?

If you cannot afford to post bail on your own, then you can either remain in jail as you await your court date or you can seek out a bail bond company. When you approach a bail bond company, they will need to gather personal information, work history, references, and collateral. If approved, the bail bond company will go to the court and pay the full bail amount on your behalf. Then you or your loved one should be released from jail.

Additional Resources

How does a bail bond company make money? 

When you turn to a bail bond company to help you post bail, you will be required to pay a fee (usually around 10%). While the bond itself is refundable, this fee is not (even if you are eventually found innocent of the crime). After you attend your court date, the bail amount will be refunded to the bail bond company, and the bail bond company will pocket your bail bond fee. This is how bail bond companies make money and are able to offer this service.

Additional Resources

Can a bail bond company arrest you? 

Bail bondsmen are not considered law enforcement to any degree. They simply offer a bail service to the community. However, if you don’t make your court date that means the bail bond company will not get your bail amount refunded. This means they have an incentive to get you back to court. In this type of situation, the bail bond company would hire a bounty hunter. These people are also not police officers, but they do have the authority to legally detain you and take you back to court. 

Additional Resources

What happens if you don’t make your court date?

If you don’t make your court date, then you will have a failure to appear on your record and a warrant will be issued for your arrest. As we mentioned earlier, this will be the point at which the bail bond company will likely reach out to a bounty hunter. If you did happen to post bail on your own, then a failure to appear in court means you forfeit the entire bail amount, and it will not be returned to you.

Additional Resources

Need help posting bail? Contact Cowboy Bail Bonds.

At Cowboy Bail Bonds, we have decades of experience providing bail bonds in Bakersfield, Taft, Wasco, and throughout Kern County, and we’d love to talk to you. Fill out our online form or give us a call today.

Not in Kern County? Here’s how to find a bail bond company near me.

How is the bail amount determined in court?

a woman counting money to pay bail amount

If you or a loved one is sent to jail, then you’ll immediately want to know, “How is the bail amount determined in court?” This is because once bail is set, then you can start the process to get your friend or family member out of jail. The sooner you can get your loved one out of jail, the better.

When it comes to bail, however, there are several factors that will help the judge determine bail amount. These factors can include:

  • The defendant’s criminal history: Is this the individual’s first crime or have they committed multiple crimes in the past? Do they have a failure to appear on their record? (Learn more about a failure to appear in court.)
  • The nature of the crime: How serious is the crime? If they’re released, will they be a danger to anyone in the community?
  • Their intent to flee: Do they pose a significant flight risk? Are the chances high that they’ll leave the city, state, or country if released on bail?

Any of these factors can increase or decrease bail, and in certain cases, you could be fully denied bail. At this point, you’ll be forced to remain in jail until your trial is completed.

Keep in mind… even if you have a clean criminal history and relatively minor charge on the table, you could still end up facing a pretty steep bail amount. In fact, the median bail amount in California is around $50,000 (which is significantly higher than other areas of the country).

You can be released on an “OR bond”, which means you don’t have to post bail and you can still await trial at home. Learn more about Own Recognizance bonds.

Know your bail amount already? Here’s what you need to know.

When it comes time to post bail, the majority of people will seek out help from a bail bondsman — simply based on the fact that bail is usually a lot of money. Take a look at the resources below to learn more about how and when to post bail.

  1. Are bail bonds open on weekends?
  2. How to find a bail bondsman near me
  3. What information does a bail bondsman need?
  4. Different types of bail bond collateral

How much does bail cost?

coins coming out of a jar

If you have a loved one in jail, then your first question (of many) is likely, “How much does bail cost?” While there are a few options once someone has been arrested, odds are you probably want to get your friend or family member out of jail as quickly as possible. So, figuring out how much bail is and how to post it is almost always an immediate concern.

If you don’t go the bail route, then your loved one will be required to remain in jail until the court process has been completed. This can be quite a long time. 

If you decide to post bail, then you have two options — pay the bail outright to the court or work with a bail bond agent. Since bail can be a high amount (especially if it’s not a minor charge), most people can’t afford bail, and they’ll end up reaching out to a local bail bond company.

At this point, you won’t be required to pay the full bail amount to the court. Instead, you’ll pay a bail fee to the bail bond company, and the bail bond company will post the full bail amount on your behalf.

If you’re wondering, “How much does a bail bond cost?” — then you’ll need to only calculate the bail fee amount. The bail fee amount is a percentage of the full bail amount. In California, this usually sits at or around 10%. So, if your bail is set at $10,000, you owe the bail bond company $1,000. 

Keep in mind — while the full bail amount is refundable (if you don’t have a failure to appear in court), the bail fee paid to a bail bond company is non-refundable (even if the charges are dropped in the future). However, certain bail bond companies will do their best to work with you and may be able to provide payment options (or other forms of payment).

In some cases, you will be required to put up collateral, as well. There are many types of collateral, including homes, cars, and jewelry. You’ll want to be very careful choosing your collateral since this can technically become the property of the bail bond company if your loved one fails to appear in court. 

Want to keep learning about the bail bond process?

Take a look at our additional resources, and reach out to us if you have any questions.

How to get out of jail in California quickly

The inside of a dark black and white jail

If you’re wondering how to get out of jail in California (and not in Monopoly), then you’ve come to the right place. Getting out of jail can be a stressful and confusing process, so it’s important to find local experts to help you out. More specifically, you’ll want to find a local bail bond company (and maybe even a lawyer if the charge necessitates it).

How can a bail bond agent help you get out of jail?

When you’re arrested for a crime, odds are you’ll be assigned a bail amount by the court. Bail could be assigned immediately or it could be assigned after seeing a judge (which could take up to 24 hours).  

If you can post bail, then you’ll be free to go home. If you cannot, you’ll have to remain in jail until your next court date. Bail is used as an incentive to get the defendant to return to court, which means that your bail amount will be returned if you don’t skip your court date.

Learn More: What happens if you fail to appear in court?

However, bail can sometimes be out of reach for the average person, which is why bail bond companies exist. A bail bond company can work with you or a close friend or family member, guide you through the bail process, and get you out of jail quickly. Usually, a bail bond company will take over the whole process on behalf of the defendant and their family, which can speed things up and create less confusion.

Keep in mind, working with a bail bond company is not free. You will be required to pay a non-refundable percentage of your bail to the bail bond company. And in some cases, you’ll also be required to put up some form of collateral.

Learn More: What can you use as collateral for a bond?

In some situations, people could be granted an OR release (own recognizance release). This usually only happens if the crime committed is minor, and the person has a relatively clean criminal history. With an OR release, you won’t be required to post bail or remain in jail until your court date — you simply sign some paperwork, and you’re allowed to return home. 

Cowboy Bail Bonds can help you get out of jail in California 

Need help getting out of jail and posting your bail? Give us a call at 661.324.6009 or fill out our online form to get immediate help. We are available 24/7 to help you or your loved ones make bail and get out of jail quickly.

What is an OR bond?

Barbed wire outside of prison

When a loved one is arrested, you might be wondering, “What is an own recognizance release and how do you qualify for one?” 

This is a common question (even if people don’t actually know the term “own recognizance” or “OR”). Because if you’re not asking, “What is an OR bond?”, then you’re likely asking, “Can I be released from custody without posting a cash bond?” These two questions are one and the same.

If you’re required to post a bond, it’s usually not cheap, and it’s this way on purpose. The court needs to give you a bigger incentive to return to court on the appropriate day. If you don’t, your bond will not be returned. If you do, you get all your money back

Even though bail bond companies will post bail on your behalf, you’re still required to pay a percentage of the bond to the bail bond company. And you may even need cosigners who will be responsible for the full amount if you skip your court date. For some people, cosigners and even the bail bond fee are out of reach — which is why an own recognizance release is often requested. 

Who qualifies for an own recognizance release?

  • The court believes you do not require cash bond to return to court
  • The individual has not been charged with an offense punishable by death
  • The individual will not be a threat to public safety

Keep in mind, most people charged with felonies will not be granted an OR.  If it’s your first-offense and you’ve been charged with a low-level offense, it’s a possibility that you could be granted an OR after a background check.

What happens if you don’t get an OR?

If you don’t get an OR and you are required to post a cash bond, then you’ll likely need to reach out to a bail bond company. A bail bond agent can help you through the bail process and get you released from jail quickly. Take a look at some helpful links below to learn more about the bail bond process.

Are Bail Bondsmen Law Enforcement Officers?

law enforcement toys on the sidewalk

We’ve previously addressed whether or not bail bond agents and bounty hunters are police officers, which they are not. But are bail bondsmen law enforcement officers in any capacity?

The answer to this question depends on how you look at things. To be clear, bail bondsmen are not law enforcement officers and neither are bounty hunters. However, they do deal with bail enforcement, which does give them some authority to take you back to court. 

Learn more about what happens if you fail to appear in court

If a person skips their court date, a bail bond company would contract with a bounty hunter. That bounty hunter would then find the person who skipped court and bring them back to the proper authorities on behalf of the bail bond company.

The bounty hunter does have to be educated and may have to obtain specific licenses in order to detain a fugitive. Bounty hunters are also expected to have the appropriate documentation to carry out their duties. In other words, you can’t just wake up one day and decide to be a bounty hunter. You have to go through the process to become a bounty hunter and then work alongside bail bond companies.

Learn more about what a bail bond agent is

So, while bail bond companies and bounty hunters have some legal capacity to detain you, they aren’t technically law enforcement officers. They are not responsible for policing individuals on anything other than bail and failed court appearances. 

Want to learn more about the bail bond process?

Now that we’ve answered the question, “Are bail bondsmen law enforcement officers?”, check out our additional resources to learn more about bail bond agents and the bail bond process as a whole:

Can a bail bond company garnish my wages?

What can you use as collateral for a bond?

Are bail bonds returned?

What Happens If You Fail To Appear In Court

Barbed wire near jail

What happens if you fail to appear in court after you’ve been charged with a crime and posted bail? Will you immediately be sent back to jail or is it possible that the judge will just let everything slide?

Well, we can say one thing for sure — the judge will not simply forget about everything and drop the charges.

Here’s what you can expect to happen with a failure to appear in court.

Failure to appear in court penalties 

  • Fine: up to $1,000 fine (if original crime a misdemeanor), up to $10,000 (if original crime a felony)
  • Jail time: up to 6 months in jail (if original crime a misdemeanor), up to 3 years (if original crime a felony)
  • Charge: misdemeanor or felony based on original charge

To make matters significantly worse, you will likely be forced to forfeit your bail money if you skipped your court date (even if you are eventually found innocent of the original crime).

To be charged with a failure to appear in court, it has to be proven that you were notified of the court date, that you intentionally failed to appear, and that you had no viable excuse for not attending. All in all, none of this is very difficult to prove.

How to avoid a failure to appear in court charge

The only real way to avoid a failure to appear in court charge is to… show up to court. While there are ways to fight this charge in court, it requires a skilled lawyer and a good amount of luck. Your best bet is to avoid this charge altogether and don’t attempt to delay court proceedings. 

Related Content:

Are bail bonds open on weekends?

white calendar open

If you or a loved one is arrested on the weekend, what happens? Are bail bonds open on the weekends and can you get in contact with a bail bond agent? Or, do you have to wait until Monday at 9am to finally get the bail bond process initiated?

If you or someone you care for has been arrested at midnight on a Friday or even early on a Sunday morning, you’ll be happy to know that you can typically call up a bail bond company right then and there. You don’t have to wait until the next business day. 

The average local bail bond company understands that mistakes aren’t just made on weekdays during business hours. In fact, it’s probably more likely that you’ll find yourself in trouble late at night when most people are in bed. This is why the majority of bail bond companies are on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

However, operating hours may differ from one police station to the next. What this means is that you may not be able to post bail until the next morning or the following business day. Nonetheless, you can still get the process started with a local bail bond agent (which is recommended).

Check out 3 simple tips to find a quality bail bond company near you.

Want to learn more about posting bail?

Check out our additional resources to learn more about bail bond companies and the bail bond process as a whole:

Why do bail bonds work?

A book about judges

Why do bail bonds work and are they good for society? This is a question many people have started asking over the last few years. They’re wondering whether or not the bail system can be transformed into something else entirely and if bail bonds are even necessary. 

Here’s the deal: the bail system and bail bonds do what they’re intended to do. While everything can obviously be improved upon, the goal of the bail system is achieved time and time again every day in America.

Let’s take a quick look at the top reasons bail bonds work and are good for society (and yes, even people who have been arrested).

Bail gives people another reason to go to court

Bail is typically not cheap, and many people often don’t have the resources readily available to post bail on their own. However, this is done on purpose. Bail needs to be high because it gives people the urgent incentive to go back to court. If they do so, they get their bail money back. If they don’t, they forfeit that money.

Imagine bail being set at something as low as $50 or imagine there being no bail at all. Why would people feel the urgency to attend court? Sure, a warrant for your arrest might be issued — but in some cases, this doesn’t mean much. But losing out on $10,000? That means a lot.

Bail bonds give people the opportunity to post bail

Bail can be viewed as a terrible part of the legal system and as a device that keeps poor people in prison. However, this is far from reality. 

As we just mentioned, how terrible would it be to forfeit $10,000? But what if you can’t afford that $10,000 to begin with? Then you’re stuck in jail while you await trial (which could take several months), and to make matters worse, you could be innocent. 

This is where bail bonds come in.

Bail bonds were created to give people lacking the necessary bail funds to post bail. Even though the bail bond agency is paid a small percentage of the total bail amount, this still beats sitting in a jail cell. 

Plus, the incentive to go to court is still there. In the majority of cases, bail bond companies require co-signers. Co-signers are typically family members or close friends. If you don’t show up to court, that person will be wholly responsible for the full bail amount (not just the percentage initially paid to the bail bond company). 

Long story short, not only does the bail system make it more likely for those arrested to attend court, but the bail system also helps those lacking funds to post bail. So, yes — bail is expensive, but that doesn’t mean only rich people can post it.

The current bail system avoids racial profiling and stereotypes

As it stands, a judge determines what your bail amount will be. They scrutinize your current situation with past behavior to determine your flight risk.

In the past, groups have pushed forward ideas to take away bail and replace it with an algorithm that determines flight risk. Only those that receive a high rating will remain in jail as they await trial. Others can await trial at home. No bail required.

However, what many people don’t understand is that this algorithm will be based on stereotypes and profiling. This will likely only negatively impact underprivileged people. Richer individuals who have never committed a crime openly will be rated as a very low risk, while poorer individuals with even minor stains on their records will be rated as a high risk. 

A judge can use his or her best judgement to compassionately determine flight risk and assign a fair bail amount in the process. An algorithm with no bail required cannot do this.

Want to learn more about the bail bond process?

Check out our additional resources to learn more about bail bond agents and the bail bond process as a whole:

3 simple ways to find ‘bail bonds near me’

Bail bonds near me googled on a tablet

If your friend or loved one has been arrested, then you’ll likely need to figure out how to find ‘bail bonds near me.’ While being arrested can be a stressful process, finding a reliable bail bond agency does not have to be. In fact, tracking down a bail bond agent can be a quick and painless process. Here are a few simple ways to find a local bail bond company.

Take a drive downtown 

In many cities, bail bond companies like to shack up next to the police station and/or courthouse. Odds are, if you take a drive downtown, you’ll likely come across one or two bail bond companies. If you find yourself looking for a bail bond company during off-hours, don’t be deterred. The majority of bail bond companies are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Jot down their phone number, and give them a call (even if it is midnight on a Saturday). They’ll most likely answer.

Google it

If you decide to search for a bail bond agency online, consider limiting your search to only the first page. The top 5-10 results will show you the most popular and most relevant bail bond agencies near you. If you really want to drill down to the most reliable agency, check out the reviews located at the top of your Google search results. If you’re on a mobile device, these will show up right underneath the map at the top of the search results. 

Look for the number of reviews, as well as the quality of reviews. Stick to an agency with a rating of 4 stars or more and make sure the agency has a good amount of reviews (unless you notice that all of the agencies near you don’t have very many Google reviews). If this is the case, then it likely just means that your surrounding community isn’t very active on Google and doesn’t tend to review local businesses. 

Ask your Facebook friends

Unless you’d rather keep your current situation under wraps, Facebook is a great place to seek out recommendations from people you trust. You’d be surprised how many people have experience dealing with bail bonds and the prison system as a whole. Facebook also has a specific style post for people seeking recommendations, which allows for your friends to tag places and businesses within their comments easier than in traditional posts. 

Want to learn more about bail bond companies?

Check out our additional resources to learn more about bail bond agents and the bail bond process as a whole: