How do Bail Bonds Work? Do you get your money back?

Bail bonds are an unfortunate but necessary part of modern life. They help individuals who had been charged with a crime get out of jail and more adequately prepare their case. However, for those who are not experienced in the world of bail, they may seem inherently confusing and nonsensical. Bail bonds are more of a business than a civic institution and should be treated as such.

The bail bonds process

The bail bonds process in California is similar to other states. Whenever an individual is arrested, they have to be booked and held for bail. The bail is a financial incentive to coerce an individual to come into court. It allows an individual to be released only under the condition that they go through the effort and expense to post bail. Bail amounts in California vary with the severity of different accused crimes. Murder charges may result in a bail of over one million dollars according to the bail bonds process in California. Smaller infractions could have bail at or less than $100. No matter the amount of bail, there are often individuals who still want to post a cash bond and receive their freedom. The bail bondsman caters directly to these individuals.

How bail works

The bail bonds process works as a form of a loan. Individuals work with a bail bond company in order to raise the funds necessary to reach the bail amounts California set by a judge. They often want to set this bail as quickly as possible in order to get an individual out of jail. The bail bondsman takes in a myriad of factors before determining whether to accept the bond. He or she takes into account the ability of the individual to pay and the way in which they plan on paying the bondsman’s fee. Bondsmen may accept collateral from an individual or they may only accept a cash payment. Once their fee is negotiated and received, they release the bond and an individual is let out of jail. They are then compelled by both the court and the bail bondsman to appear in court on the set date.

The bail business and the bail agent

The bail agent makes all of their money from the fees that they collect from individuals according to bail terms. It is true that an individual who pays their bond receives all of that bail money back if they show up for court on time. This process may make people wonder why they do not receive any bail money back from the fee that they pay the bail bondsman if they arrive to court on time. These individuals must realize that the bail bondsman is in business for themselves. They need to find a way to make money and cover their expenses. The way that they do this is by charging their fee to people who hire a bail agent. The fee may be higher than one would expect because of the calculated risk that the bondsman is taking. There are thousands of individuals who jump bail and do not arrive for court on a daily basis. Bail jumpers can cost bail bondsmen hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. They are such a frequent occurrence that they comprise the main reason for the specifics of bail terms on a cash bond. Read about California parole system


Anybody faced with the bail processor with a family member who has to post bond needs to consider their options. They need to look at their assets and their ability to file for the bond. If they cannot make bail, they should cut their jail time short and hire a bail agent. While there are fees involved, a bail bondsman can help an individual get out of the possibly violent, barely hospitable world of jail and back to their homes and families.