The simplest answer to this question for a bail bondsman in California is 10% of the total bail. If the defendant has a total bail of $20,000, then the bail bonds cost is $2000. That is if the defendant decides to work with a bail bonds company. There are a couple ways to bail out of jail; put up the entire amount of bail to the court or go through a bail bonds company. Putting up the entire bail amount is considered, cash bail, and in the end, this will cost the defendant nothing.
Using a California Bail Bonds Company: (The answer to this question will be for California. Some of the laws are different in other states and some states don’t actually have bail at all.)
A bail bonds company get’s a call from either the defendant in jail or from someone related to this defendant who in turn calls a bail bondsman. Once this happens the bail bondsman starts the bail bonds process and begins all the paperwork and questions for the defendant and the indemnitor (the person who signs for the defendant). For this example the bail will be set at $20,000. This cost means the charge is usually a domestic battery.
At this point the indemnitor will need to decide how to pay for the bail agent’s fee, which is $2000 for $20K total bail . People normally pay with a credit card for bonds of this size.
Why is it 10% of the total bail?
In California, all bail is regulated by the California Department of Insurance. By law, each and every bail bonds company is supposed to issue 10% of the total bail for their services. But as times have gone by and the economy has been stagnant, competition for the bail that is being written has gotten fierce. In these instances, unethical and immoral bail agents will do most anything to obtain the services of the defendant. One of those ways is to undercut the state regulated fee of 10%. Even though this is considered illegal, local unethical bail bondsman still proceed. Mostly because there is no enforcement on this rule by the law, the insurance companies that back the bail companies and most notably, the California Department of Insurance.
The unethical bail agents will advertise 5% down and when they bail out your friend will require the additional 5%. If you refuse to pay this because you recognize the “bait and switch” sales strategy, they threaten to return your friend to the jail, and if you continue to refuse, they promptly return them to jail and you are back at square one.
Make sure you are dealing with a reputable bail bonds company is rule #1. Rule #2, ask them a lot of questions. The unethical bondsman will become rude very quickly and you will be able to tell.
It costs a $2000 fee for a bail totaling $20,000 when working with a bail bonds company. Be aware of the unethical bail bondsman out there and have some patience when deciding on which bail bonds company to go with.
Note: This fee is NON-REFUNDABLE. This is exactly as one would think a fee is. It is not part of the total bail, $20,000. The bail agents give the court what’s called a power. This “power of bail” is worth a certain amount of money. They provide this “power of bail” in exchange for your freedom. This is similar to a loan or a “note.” Or if you are 80 years old, its similar to a dollar bill. If the defendant attends all of the court dates and the case is over, the bond gets exonerated and everyone is released from their responsibilities to the $20,000 bail.
Let’s use the same example as before, a total bail of $20,000. Since the indemnitor will NOT be working with a bail bonds agent or company, there will be no actual “fee.” But, when working with cash bail, the defendant or indemnitor must provide to the court the total bail amount in cash. Therefore the indemnitor will give the court either a cashier’s check, money order, or cash totaling $20,000.
If/when the defendant attends all of their court cases and the bond is exonerated, the defendant and/or indemnitor get back their entire $20,000. So, if choose the road of “Cash Bail”, you end up spending no money, but you have to have the entire bail amount in cash to do so, and not very many Californians have that amount sitting around.