Los Angeles Bail Terms Defined

Q: What is “bail?”

A: Under the 8th Amendment people have the constitutional right to reasonable bail. Many times a jurisdiction will have a bail schedule that they go by where bail is imposed for the offense.

A person can post the entire bail or through a bondsman post generally 10% and it is your promise to appear.

Bail: Money paid to the court to ensure that an arrested person who is released from jail will show up at all required court appearances.

Q: What if I can’t afford bail?

A: If you can’t afford bail, you’re out of luck. You will stay in custody for the duration of the process unless:

  • Judge releases you on your “Own Recognizance” (O.R.)
  • Charges against you are dismissed
  • Charges are resolved and you are sentenced

Q: What is a “bail bondsman?”

A: A bail bondsman is a person that works for an insurance company and will post a surety bond for your bail.

Example: The court posts your bail at $100,000, if you come up with a 10% fee to a bail bondsman and have property or sign over for $100,00 you can post something less (usually 10%) and be able to get out on a surety bond.

Bail Bondsman: Any person or corporation which will pledge money or property as bail for the appearance of a criminal defendant in court.

Q: What is “skipping bail?”

A: Bail is posted for your promise to appear. If you, or a family member, has posted a bond for you to appear and you don’t show up, you have skipped bond. The bond is then forfeited and that money goes to the court and the county.

Skipping Bail: Fail to appear in court for trial and thereby give up the bail bond.

Q: What options does a judge have when determining bail?

A: Most counties have a felony bail schedule that sets the bail based on the seriousness of the offense. The judge can raise bail or lower bail based on a variety of factors:

  • Likelihood of fleeing
  • Seriousness of offense
  • Ties to the community

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