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Questions about Bail

What are bail bonds?
Who issues bail bonds?
How much does a bail agent charge?
What is the indemnitor agreeing to in the bail bond contract?
What Collateral is needed to make bail?
What is collateral?
When will collateral be returned?
What does the bail agent do for the indemnitor?
How long can a bail bond be used?
How do I find a Legitimate Bail Agent?

What are bail bonds?
Persons arrested on a criminal charge may be held through trial, unless they furnish the required bail. The posting of a bail bond acquired by or on behalf of the incarcerated person is one means of meeting the required bail. When a bond is issued, the bonding company guarantees that the defendant will appear in court at all required court hearings.
The Court in which the defendant must appear is protected by the bond. If the defendant fails to appear, the bond amount becomes payable and is forfeited as a penalty by the surety insurer issuing the bond. Bail bonds usually require collateral (cash, a deed, or other property) to protect the bail.

Who issues bail bonds?
Bail bonds are issued by licensed “Bail Agents” that specialize in the underwriting and issuance of bail bonds. Bail agents act as the appointed representatives of licensed surety insurance companies. Be sure to ask if your bail bondsman is licensed by the State of California.

How much does a bail agent charge?
Typically, the cost to the consumer, also known as an indemnitor, will be 10% of the total amount of the bond, plus actual, necessary and reasonable expenses incurred in connection with the transaction. The court determines the amount of the bond.

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What is the indemnitor agreeing to in the bail bond contract?
The indemnitor is agreeing to:
• Pay the premium for the bond at the established rates.
• Provide required collateral.
• Pay actual, necessary and reasonable expenses incurred by the bail agent in connection with the
transaction. These may include:
• Reimbursement for long distance phone calls.
• Excess travel expenses
• Posting fees
• Recovery agent/skip tracer expenses
• Payment of the bond amount for the defendant’s failure to appear.
• Attorney fees and court costs.
• Keep the bail agent advised of address and employment changes of the defendant or other parties to the agreement.
• Aid the bail agent/skip tracers in locating the defendant (where someone other than the defendant has secured the bond).

The consumer should read all agreements thoroughly, asking questions until all items and obligations are understood.

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What Collateral is needed to make bail?
Typically, a family member or a close friend of the defendant will post bail and cosign. Collateral is not always required for a person to be bailed from jail. Often a person can be bailed from jail on the signature of a friend or family member. Cosigners typically need to be working and either own or rent a home in the same area for some time.

What is collateral?
Collateral is anything of value used to financially secure a bail bond. Examples include houses, cars, boats, jewelry, and electronic equipment (i.e., anything of financial value).

When will collateral be returned?
Collateral is usually returned when the court finishes with the defendant’s case(s), exonerating the bail bond(s), and when all fees have been paid.

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What does the bail agent do for the indemnitor?
A bail agent provides an avenue for the incarcerated person to be out of custody until his/her day in court, allowing the defendant to continue his/her day-to-day life until the criminal matter is resolved.
The bail agent will provide the following:
• Receipts and copies of all signed documents.
• Information regarding the status of the bond and changes in assigned court dates.
• The status of any costs due, as imposed by the court.
• Assistance in locating the defendant should forfeiture occur.
• Appearance before the court regarding the bail bond when such appearances are necessary (sometimes requiring the hiring of legal counsel).
• The timely return of collateral upon exoneration of the bond.

How long can a bail bond be used?
The bail bond runs for the length of the case that is being bonded, unless the court orders the bailee remanded into custody. However, the agreement may provide for the payment of premium at inception, and upon “renewal” on an annual basis. Once paid, premium for a bail bond is not refundable.

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How do I find a Legitimate Bail Agent?
1. Make sure you only deal with a licensed bail agent. Ask to see the bail agent’s license and identification prior to any bail transaction. Or, confirm their licensure status with the Department of Insurance through their website www.insurance.ca.gov/license-status.

2. Make sure the bail agent charges legal rates. Typically, the premium charged for a bail bond is 10% of the full bail amount. Any additional charges should be itemized and explained to your satisfaction.

3. Make sure you are given itemized receipts for all charges and copies of all signed contracts and agreements.

4. Make sure the bail agent you contract with will be available to you after the bail bond has been posted. Part of what you pay for is service. Any professional bail agent will be available for questions or concerns throughout the entire process.

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