Bail and bonds
The bail system guarantees that the defendant will appear as directed.
Get out of jail
Each county maintains a schedule for all bailable felony offenses and for all misdemeanors and infractions
other than Vehicle Code infractions.
A magistrate judge sets bail at the defendant's first court appearance. The defendant should appear
before a magistrate judge within two court days after arrest. The court will usually set bail according to
the bail schedule when the defendant has close ties to the community, does not pose a danger to the
public, and when the circumstances of the alleged crime do not suggest that the defendant will use illegal
funds to secure bail.
Surety bond (most common bail bond). To obtain a surety bond, the defendant (or someone acting on
the defendant's behalf) must execute a surety bond contract with a bail bond agent. The agent will
typically charge 10 percent of the bail amount for this service ("the premium"). The agent will forfeit the
bail to the court if the defendant fails to appear as instructed.
Cash bond. A cash bond resembles a surety bond, but the defendant (or the person acting on the
defendant's behalf) must post the total amount of the bail (not just 10 percent) in cash. The court holds
this money until the case concludes. If the defendant does not appear as instructed, the court retains
the cash bond and issues a bench warrant for the defendant.
Property bond. A defendant may post a property bond with the court. The property must have equity
valued at twice the amount of bail. The court records a lien (or right) on the property to secure the bail
amount. If the defendant fails to appear, the court may institute foreclosure proceedings against the
Own recognizance (OR). The court may release the defendant prior to trial without any financial
security to insure the defendant's appearance.