Police make arrests in California daily. Only a few can afford to post cash bail and await court proceedings, trial, and sentencing while out of custody. So many financial challenges come with raising money to post cash bail. The good news is that bail bond services make the bail posting process affordable and quick. If it is your very first time posting bail through a bonds company, this article highlights how these companies work to help you out of jail.
If you're looking to secure your release by posting a bond, you want to reach out to a reliable bail agent. At Steven Mehr Bail Bonds, we have been helping clients looking to post bail in Lancaster, CA, for several years. Thus, we have established a good reputation with the judges, prosecutors, and police, which we use to our advantage to help you secure your release within a short period. Contact us any time if you want to make bail, and we'll do it for you.
Arrest and Booking Process
If you've been arrested in Lancaster, you'll likely be taken to a county jail, where you'll be booked and processed into the computer system. Booking includes recording your fingerprints, taking your mug shots, and gathering your background info. This process may take several hours, depending on the activities at the jail during this time. You can't be visited or post bail until the booking procedure is completed.
It's critical to know that you could also be transported to one of the larger jails in Los Angeles County. You could be transported either to Twin Towers or Men's Central Jail if you are a man. And if you're a woman, you could be taken to Century Regional Detention Facility. If you're brought to a larger jail, the process of posting bail may take a longer time to complete— at times between twelve and sixteen hours. That's why it's a good idea to, if possible, post bail while you're still held at the local jail for a faster release period.
After booking, bail is set. Generally, it's the judge who sets bail during your first court appearance (the bail hearing). However, the police can also set bail by referring to the Los Angeles felony or misdemeanor bail schedule, meaning there won't be the need for the bail hearing. Generally, bail amounts per the bail schedule vary based on how severe the alleged criminal offense is. For instance, the crime of murder may attract a bail amount of more than one million dollars, whereas minor crimes like shoplifting carry as low bail amounts as a hundred dollars.
The judge also refers to the bail schedule while setting bail. However, unlike the police, they have the discretion to lower or raise the amount indicated on the schedule. The judge may lower or increase the bail amount based on:
- The severity of your criminal offense.
- Your criminal history.
- Whether you're a danger to the community.
- Whether or not you have community ties.
- The likelihood that you'll appear in court after release.
- Whether you're likely to flee the jurisdiction after release on bail.
Irrespective of the bail amount you're required to pay, you can always contact a Lancaster bail bond company to post it for you if you cannot raise the cash.
Securing a Bond in Lancaster
After booking, you're allowed to make a few calls to arrange how you'll post bail. This is when you contact a bonds company or have someone else contact them to help you post bail. Most bond companies will require that you have a cosigner for the bond. The bail agent will listen to what your co-signer has to say then ask questions regarding you and the type of your alleged crime. Using this info, they'll draft a bond contract and application that the co-signer will be required to complete. If the co-signer can't schedule an in-person meeting with the agent, they can fill the application form and sign the agreement online.
Once the paperwork is done and your co-signer has made the necessary payment, the bail agent will come to where they are holding you to post bail, and you will be set free. Note that most Lancaster bail bond companies post bail 24/7. Therefore, irrespective of when you are arrested or start the bond process, you won't need to wait until business hours to be set free.
Keep in mind that you assume financial responsibility for the total bond amount once you agree to become a co-signer (Indemnitor). If the accused doesn't show up in court as required, you'll be obligated to pay the total bond amount the agent posted in court to secure the defendant's release. Thus, before you agree to cosign, ensure the accused will obey the court's requirement of showing up for proceedings.
How Much Does a Bond Cost?
The standard charge for a bond in California is ten percent of the entire bail amount the judge requires you to pay. This cost is referred to as the premium, and it isn't refundable regardless of how your case will turn out. It's the bail bond company's fee for their services.
Even though the stipulated premium is ten percent, some bond agencies offer discounts, and a client may end up paying eight, seven, or even five percent premium. Clients who mainly receive discounts include:
- Those represented by a lawyer.
- Union members.
- Police officers.
- Military members and veterans.
- AARP members.
In addition to the premium fee, most bail bond companies in Lancaster require collateral to guarantee that you won't skip bail. Collateral can be any valuable asset like a house or vehicle. If you flee town or fail to attend the court proceedings of your case, the bail agent is entitled to sell or keep the collateral.
If you appear in court as required until your case is resolved, the court will exonerate the bond. This shows that you or your co-signer do not owe the court anything. Still, you should be aware that a verdict of guilt or innocence at trial does not affect the exoneration of the bond once your case ends. What matters is whether you appeared in all the proceedings of your case or not.
Co-Signing Bonds: Critical Considerations to Keep in Mind
When you agree to secure a bail bond on a defendant's behalf, you're called a cosigner (Indemnitor). This means you guarantee that the accused will appear on all the court dates as required. Whether you provide the required cash out of your pocket or borrow it from your family and friends, the bail agent will come after you to recover the bond amount if the accused doesn't attend court and the attempts to find them fail.
If you plan to agree to be a cosigner for a bond, you want to be conversant with your legal rights. Firstly, you must be aware that you have the right to refuse to be a cosigner. Secondly, you can only agree to cosign a bond if you are sure you will pay the total amount if the accused doesn't come to court or violates any other bail terms.
Additionally, you have the right to cancel a bond agreement into which you entered if you suspect that the accused won't attend court. Once you call the bail agent and inform them that you need to cancel the bond contract, the accused will be returned to jail until their case is resolved, and the bail agent will terminate the agreement you signed with them.
Requirements for Cosigning a Bond
To be eligible to cosign a bond in Lancaster, you must have a valid government identification document and driver's license. Other crucial application requirements are:
- Form of payment, such as cash, credit card, or other payment arrangements.
- Proof of residence.
- Proof of ownership (whereas this might not be compulsory, some bond agents may ask you to provide a property deed or vehicle title, especially if you're giving collateral).
- Proof of employment such as pay stubs.
Critical Questions You Need to Ask a Bonds Agency Before Retaining Their Services as a Cosigner
When you sign a contract with a bonds agency as a cosigner, you will be the defendant's guarantor. Considering the financial responsibility of co-signing a bond, you have to ask the bail agent these critical questions to ensure you are dealing with a professional:
Are They Licensed?
Los Angeles County regulates bond agencies, and you have to ensure the company you are dealing with has bail agents who hold a valid state license. If the agents lack a license, it means you cannot be sure they will offer reliable bond services and stick to their terms. Thus, if a bail agent does not prove that they are licensed, you shouldn’t do business with them.
What Maximum Bond Amount Do They Offer?
Some bond companies only avail small bonds, whereas others offer a higher bond limit. The average amount of bail in the U.S is approximately ten thousand dollars. Therefore, it is recommended that you retain a bond company that can offer a bond above this amount.
While talking to a bail bond agent, ensure you inform them of the bail amount you require for the defendant to be released from custody. It is also critical that the bail bond agency offers the money you seek to borrow. If it finds your request is impossible, seek help from another company.
Do They Serve Your Location?
Bond agents serve specific locations. Therefore, when you reach out to a company seeking their services, the agents should be flexible enough to reach you if you are incarcerated in the region they serve. If the agents you intend to work with cannot help you in your location, look for another option. It is also recommended that you go for an agency that serves the entire county or city. This will be the best way of ensuring the bondsman posts bail faster so the defendant doesn't spend much time in custody.
What Happens Once the Accused Is Out of Jail?
A bonds agent should tell you what you will require to satisfy your bond agreement. They should also assist you in understanding what will happen if the accused does not attend court or violate bail terms. If you have any concerns concerning the accused being released and appearing in court, make sure you are content with their answers before committing yourself to sign any agreement.
Are They Among the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Members?
Before working with a bond agency, you must ensure its bail agents are experienced. One way of confirming this is by checking online reviews of their previous clients’ services. Additionally, when you're seeking to work with a bond agent for the time, try finding out whether they are a BBB member. If so, it is a sign they value their reputation and strive to ensure their clients are content with their services. If they have a high score, expect them to offer high-quality bond services. On the contrary, a lower score may mean there are regular complaints about them and if that’s the case, keep looking.
Lancaster Jail and Court Information
Contact a Lancaster Bail Bondsman Near Me
If you wish to secure a bond to bail yourself out of jail, ensure you work with a professional bail bonds agent. You should know that the bail bonds industry is filled with many rogue bondsmen who pass themselves as offering the best bond services. For this reason, you want to ask critical questions about the company you intend to work with and conduct a background check to obtain all the facts.
At Steven Bail Bonds, we are a renowned and reputable bail bonds company. We have taken pride in serving clients seeking bail bond services in Lancaster, CA, for many decades. We boast reliable bail agents who will serve you regardless of what time you've been arrested. We also have a wide range of payment options and flexible financial plans. Call us at 800-834-8522, and we'll help you right away.