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How Bail Works in California

The Law Office of John Goalwin May 11, 2023

Man, hand open handcuffsGetting arrested is always a stressful experience that often comes with the added pressure of trying to bail out of jail. Bail is a crucial component of the criminal justice system that allows individuals charged with a crime to be released from jail while they await trial.  

Our experienced criminal defense attorney at The Law Office of John Goalwin can help you navigate the complex and difficult bail system and explain how bail works to alleviate some of the anxiety and confusion that comes with the process. From his office in Los Angeles, California, Attorney John Goalwin provides legal services and representation to clients in Norwalk, Compton, Torrance, and Van Nuys.  

What Is Bail?

Bail is a type of contract or set of conditions that allows an individual charged with a crime to be released from jail while their case is still pending. By putting up bail, the defendant is promising to show up for their court date and comply with any other conditions set by the court. Bail can be paid either in cash or with a bail bond, which is a promise to pay the full amount of bail if the defendant fails to show up for court. 

Who Qualifies for Bail in California?

In California, most defendants qualify for bail unless they are charged with certain serious felonies or if they pose a significant flight risk or danger to others. In determining whether an individual qualifies for bail, the court considers factors such as the defendant’s criminal history, the seriousness of the charged offense, and ties to the local community, among others.  

How Is the Amount of Bail Determined? 

The amount of bail is typically set by a judge and is based on factors such as the seriousness of the charged offense and criminal history. In California, a bail schedule is used to determine the amount of bail for certain offenses. However, judges have the discretion to deviate from the bail schedule based on the unique circumstances of the case. 

What Are the Conditions of Bail?

Bail is essentially a way for the court to ensure that the accused will appear in court for their trial. As such, there are conditions that must be met in order to be released on bail. One of the main conditions is posting bail, which involves paying a sum of money to the court or using collateral as security for the full amount of bail. 

Other conditions that may be imposed include regular check-ins with a pre-trial officer, adhering to a curfew, staying away from certain individuals or locations, or surrendering a passport. The conditions of bail will depend on the nature of the crime and other related factors. 

Can You Be Released Without Bail?

Yes, in certain cases, individuals charged with a crime can be released on their own recognizance without having to pay any bail. In most cases, a release without bail is possible for defendants facing charges for minor crimes or non-violent misdemeanor offenses. 

What Are Bail Bonds? 

If you cannot afford to pay the full amount of bail, you may be able to obtain a bail bond from a bail bondsman. A bail bond is a contract between the bondsman and the defendant that guarantees the full amount of bail will be paid if the defendant fails to show up for court. The defendant typically pays a bail bond agent a non-refundable fee, usually 10% of the total bail amount. 

What Happens if You Fail to Appear in Court After Bailing Out?

Failing to appear in court after bailing out is a serious offense that can result in a warrant for your arrest. The court may also revoke your bail and hold you in custody until your trial. You need to understand that the conditions of your release on bail are a legal obligation and failing to comply with them can have serious consequences. 

What Are the Benefits of Bailing Out?

One of the undeniable benefits of bailing out of jail is being able to continue living your life while awaiting trial. This can include caring for family members, earning an income, and preparing for your defense. Additionally, being released on bail can reduce the likelihood of being held in custody for an extended period of time.  

Understand Your Next Steps

By understanding how bail works in California, you can make informed decisions that may have a significant impact on your case. If you or your loved one is facing criminal charges, consider speaking with our criminal defense attorney at The Law Office of John Goalwin to learn about your bail options. Reach out to Attorney John Goalwin’s office in Los Angeles to schedule a free case evaluation.