In the State of California, the California Department of Insurance (CDI) licenses and regulates bail bond agents. To be a practising bail bond agent in California, the agent must have a valid bail agent permit license. This allows the permit holder to solicit and sell bail on behalf of a surety bonding business. The California Penal Code, specifically Sections 1268-1276.5, set forth the laws and regulations related to the use of bail.
Bail is guaranteed by the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution which provides for the citizen's legal right of "innocent until proven guilty" in a court of law. The purpose of bail is normally to allow the accused to avoid incarceration by posting bail as set by the courts prior to the determination of guilt or innocence. However, the courts whose job is to enforce and administer the laws need some warranty that the charged will be present at all court proceedings to face charges and provide a defence. Bail is certainly set based on the crime as an assurance the accused will follow due process as arranged forth by the legal system.
The amount of bail charged will vary greatly depending on the crime, prior convictions and flight risk of the accused. This is often referred to as the bail schedule as established by county courts in California. Nevertheless it is normally up to the discretion of the court where the police arrest was made to determine the bail amount using the bail schedule as assistance. Some charges such as capital offences are ineligible for bail. Under California law, all misdemeanours are eligible for bail. Regardless of whether the person charged is eventually found guilty or innocent, the amount of the bail paid is normally refunded by the courts at the conclusion of the legal proceedings. If the defendant fails to appear in court on all scheduled dates, the courts will issue a warrant for the individual's arrest and forfeiture of the bond amount to the state of California.
In those cases where a defendant cannot make bail, they can make use of bail bondsman or agency to post bail. A bail bondsman is normally an essence an insurance agent that covers the price of a defendant's bail for a set fee. He or she is covering that the accused will show up in court to face due procedure related to the charges filed. The bail bond fess is set in the state of California at ten percent but can be lower or higher based on the bail bondsman.
A bail bond is sometimes referred to as a surety bond especially in those instances that involve the use of collateral to secure payment of the bond amount. Not all bail agents accept security for payment of the 10% charge. Some agents will offer payment plans that involve an agreed upon schedule for fee payment.
If the defendant "skips bail" or does not appear as specified by the courts, California allows bail agents to use bounty hunters to apprehend that person and deliver them to the courts for incarceration. Bounty hunters needed specialized licensing and training to become a bounty hunter. Just like bail agents, bounty hunters want certification from the California Department of Insurance to operate.
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