How Does Bail Bonds Work in California

The process of how bail bonds work in California starts with the contract between state licensed agencies and bail bondsmen or bail bonds agencies. When bail is set by the court, a bail bonds California agency is one of the options that can be used by the defendant to be released from jail before their trial begins.

There are three established methods in California for posting bail which includes the following:

  • Cash
  • Property Bond
  • Bail Bond
Cash is where the total amount is posted in US currency by the defendant, family member or friend. A property bond is typically when real estate property, usually the home of the defendant, family member or friend is used as a form of collateral in security the bail. Typically, the property value must be considerably higher than the bail in order for the judge to approve.

The bail bond is the most common method of posting bail as most people do not have the cash on hand or the property necessary to make bail. The system itself has been in place in California as well as the rest of the United States for many decades.

The Bail Bonds System in California

How Bail Bonds Work in California

McDonough Bail Bonds San Francisco

It’s said that bail bonds really began in San Francisco in 1898 with the McDonough Bros. Bail Bond Brokers. Located on the corner of Kearney and 700 Clay St; Peter McDonough and his brother Tom are said to have founded the first modern bail bonds business in the United States.

The bail bonds California system is very similar to that in other states in which the defendant pays the agency a pre-determined amount and in turn they post the entire bail to the court. The amount for the initial fee can be cash, but it also can be collateral, assets or securities as well.

This fee can come from the defendant, a family member or friend willing to co-sign the contract that is made.

Because the bail bonds agency is posting the bulk of the bail, they have a very strong incentive to see that the defendant makes it to their court date. If the defendant decides not to appear or “jumps bail”, the bail bond company can seize whatever collateral was used to secure the initial fee and will send a bounty hunter to track down the defendant and turn them over to the court.

California Bail Bonds Charges & Fees

The standard cost of a bail bond is 10% of the total amount of the bail set by the court. Most states, including California have laws, rules and regulations as to what can be charged by the bondsmen. However, there are certain cases where only 8% may be charged for particularly high bail amounts that usually range in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Any additional charges or fees may come from the bail bonds company, although such charges are generally small and many agencies tend to incorporate all of their fees within the 10% of the non-refundable fee in which they charge. However, there may be fees for long distance phone calls or other expenses that are part of the overall service provided to the defendant.

Video: How Bail Bonds Work in California

California Bail Bonds Information



How does bail bonds work in California? The county court will set the defendant’s bail. A California bail bond company will post the bailbond for you as low as 8%. Co-signors guarantee the full bail amount will be paid to the bondsman if the defendant does not appear in court.

For more information about how bail bonds work in California, you can visit the official website of the California Insurance Department which oversees the California bail bond agencies law in the state.