We have placed the most frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) to help you understand the basics of bail bonds and what it takes to post a bail bond in San Luis Obispo in order to help you or your loved one get out of jail. We work very hard to make sure it is a fairly easy process for all of our clients. If you need further information, we will be more than happy to spend time with you and further explain the process of bailing out in San Luis Obispo County.
What is a bail bond?
A bail bond is a document that allows you to use money or property to guarantee the appearance in court of a person to answer charges filed against them. Someone arrested on a criminal charge in San Luis Obispo County jail may have to stay in jail until trial, unless they pay the required bail. The amount of bail is determined by the 2010 Bail Shedule in San Luis Obispo County. If someone does not have the money to post the full bail amount, a bond can be obtained from a bail bond agent in San Luis Obispo or the surrounding area where a bonding company (an insured bail agent) guarantees that the defendant will appear in court at the required time and place. The court where the defendant must appear, is protected by the bond, so that if the defendant fails to appear in court, the full bail amount becomes due and is forfeited by the company that issued the bond.
Bail bonds usually require collateral (cash, a deed, or other property) to protect the bonding company.
Bail bonds are issued by licensed “Bail Agents” who specialize in this type of transaction. Bail agents act as the appointed representatives of licensed surety insurance companies
What is the purpose of bail?
The purpose of bail is to provide a financial guarantee that the defendant will appear in court when required either before or after his/her conviction or acquittal.
How much does a bail agent charge?
The bail agent typically charges about 10% of the total amount of the bond, plus actual, necessary and reasonable expenses incurred in connection with the issuance and posting of the bond. The courts determine the amount of bail and you can find the most current Bail Schedule for San Luis Obispo County here.
Each bonding company must file rates with the Department of Insurance. Bail agents representing a company must charge the same rates as filed.
You can trust San Luis Bail Bonds every time with all you bonding needs in San Luis Obispo, California. Never a hidden fee in any of our transactions.
Any restrictions on how high my bail can be?
The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that bail should not be excessive. This means that bail should not be used to raise money for the government or to punish a person for being suspected of committing a crime, regardless of how serious the crime may be. The purpose of bail is to give an arrested person his/her freedom until he/she is convicted of a crime, and the amount of bail must be no more than is reasonably necessary to keep him/her from fleeing before a case is heard and resolved by the courts.
Most jails have standard bail schedules which specify bail amounts for common crimes. You can get out of jail quickly by paying the amount set forth in the bail schedule. You can download the most current (2010) San Luis Obispo County Bail Schedule on our links page.
What can i do if my bail is too high?
If you can’t afford the amount of bail determined by the current bail schedule in San Luis Obispo County, you can ask a judge to lower it. Depending on the state, your request must be made either in a special bail-setting hearing or when you appear in court for the first time, which is usually called your arraignment.
How soon can I appear before a judge?
A person taken to jail must be brought “without unnecessary delay before the nearest available magistrate.” It should not take longer than 48 hours (not counting weekends and holidays) between the time of booking and bringing you to court before a judge. Here is the most up to date and contact information for San Luis Obispo County Courts.
How do I pay for bail?
There are two ways to pay your bail. You may either pay the full amount of the bail or buy a bail bond. A bail bond is like a check held in reserve: It represents your promise that you will appear in court when you are supposed to. You pay a bond seller to post a bond (a certain sum of money) with the court, and the court keeps the bond in case you don’t show up. You can usually buy a bail bond for about 10% premium you pay to a bond seller is nonrefundable. In addition, the bond seller may require “collateral.” This means that you (or the person who pays for your bail bond) must give the bond seller an interest on property or any other item of value. If you fail to show up to court as promised, the bondsman can cash-in this interest.
Is bail a matter of right?
Although the right to a reasonable bail amount is protected by the constitution, bail is not always a matter of right. Persons charged with capital crimes when the facts are evident or the presumption of guilt great, do not have the right to be released on bail. A capital crime is an offense that could be punishable by death or life imprisonment, even if the prosecutor has agreed not to seek the death penalty. So, even, if a defendant is charged with a capital crime, he/she is entitled to a bail hearing to determine whether the facts are evident or the presumption great. However, it is presumed that the risk of flight of the defendant is too great when he or she is facing death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. So, with certain exceptions a defendant charged with a criminal offense shall be released on bail.
What is the consumer agreeing to in the bail contract?
In the bail contract you basically agree to the following:
- Pay the premium for the bond at the established rates.
- Provide required collateral.
- Pay actual, necessary and reasonable expenses incurred by your bail agent in connection with the transaction. These may include: Reimbursement for long distance phone calls.
- Excess travel expenses (described as outside of the bail agent’s normal scope of business, or into an area where the agent does not practice).
- Posting fees (for payment to an agent in another area to physically deliver a bond. An agent should not charge a posting fee for the normal delivery of a bond in the agent’s practice area).
- Bounty agent/skip tracer expenses (These are usually based upon the amount of the bond).
- Payment of the bond amount for the defendant’s failure to appear.
- Attorney fees and court costs.
- Keep the bail agent advised of address/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.
What does the bail agent do for the consumer?
Provides a way for the detained person to be out of custody until his/her day in San Luis Obispo County 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 a 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 is a bail bond good for, and can the amount be reduced?
When you get a bail bond, you are in essence signing a contract where you pay the bail bondsman a percentage of the full bail (usually 10%) to issue a document that guaratees that in the event you do not show up to court on the day you promised, the full bail amount will be collected by the court. So, the bail bond is good for the length of that contract. Typically, the bail bond runs for the length of the case that is being bonded. However, the agreement may provide for the payment of premium when the bond is first issued, and upon “renewal” on an annual basis. Once the premium for a bail bond is paid, it is not refundable.
A reduction of your bail is also a reduction of responsibility for the bail bondsman. Although not usually the case, a court may reduce the amount of bail required. If a bail reduction occurs, the bail agreement should be amended to reflect the reduced exposure of the bail agent and surety insurer. A bail reduction does not result in a refund of premium paid, although it may result in a partial return of collateral. If a bail reduction occurs, it should result in a reduced renewal premium. Under any circumstances, where a bail reduction has occurred, the bail agent and insurer cannot recover more than the amount to which they are actually exposed, plus necessary related expenses.
Who decides how much bail I have to pay?
Judges are responsible for setting bail. Because many people want to get out of jail immediately and, depending on when you are arrested, it can take up to five days to see a judge, most jails have standard bail schedules which specify bail amounts for common crimes. You can get out of jail quickly by paying the amount set forth in the bail schedule. You can review the most current Bail Schedule for San Luis Obispo County here.
Is it true that a defendant who proves his reliability can get out of jail on his word alone?
Sometimes. This is known as releasing someone “on his own recognizance,” or “O.R.” A defendant released on O.R. must simply sign a promise to show up in court. He doesn’t have to post bail. A defendant commonly requests release on his own recognizance at his first court appearance. If the judge denies the request, he then asks for low bail. In general, defendants who are released on O.R. have strong ties to a community, making them unlikely to flee. Factors that may convince a judge to grant an O.R. release include the following:
- The defendant has other family members (most likely parents, a spouse or children) living in the community.
- The defendant has resided in the community for many years.
- The defendant has a job.
- The defendant has little or no past criminal record, or any previous criminal problems were minor and occurred many years earlier.
- The defendant has been charged with previous crimes and has always appeared as required.
Who licenses and regulates bail agents?
Bail agents are licensed and regulated by the California Department of Insurance. You can obtain the licensing status of a bail agent by contacting the CDI Consumer Hotline at 1-800-927-4357 or by visiting CDI’s Web site at www.insurance.ca.gov.