A party may be able to find a relative, a partner or a friend’s bail amount online on the website for the county jail holding the defendant. Understanding the total bail amount can be tricky. If a defendant was arrested on multiple charges, the county may list each count, or violation of the law, of the defendant’s case with the count’s bail amount next to it. The county website may not provide the total amount of the defendant’s bail.
Calling the Court or Sheriff
A party can also find the amount of a defendant’s bail by calling the clerk of court that is hearing the defendant’s case. In addition, the party can call the defendant’s bondsman or attorney. The party can also call the law enforcement agency that arrested the defendant. The party should provide the defendant’s name, birthdate and case number.
When a Defendant Has Multiple Cases
When a defendant has multiple cases, the court usually sets one bail if all of her cases are in the same court. If the defendant has more than one case in different courts, each court will set its own bail for the defendant. The defendant will have unique bail amounts in each court.
What Does the Term No Bail Mean?
When a defendant does not have a bail amount, it means that the judge hearing the defendant’s case has not allowed the defendant to post bail to be released. The defendant must remain incarcerated until his case comes before the court. The defendant can work with his attorney to request to be let out of jail on bail. The defendant can also request that the court lower his bail.
Read More: Bail Bonds Rules
How Can Bail Be Posted?
States have different rules about how bail can be posted. California allows a defendant to post bail in cash; with a valid surety bond; a Western Union or U.S. Postal money order; and a cashier’s check drawn on a California bank and made payable to the law enforcement agency that arrested the defendant. A party can learn how a state allows bail to be posted by visiting the website for that state’s court system.
Cash Bonds Vs. Surety Bonds
A cash bail bond involves paying the entire amount of the bond in cash to the court or jail. If the bail is $5,000, the defendant or another party must pay the court $5,000. A surety bond involves hiring a surety company like a bail bondsman to pay the bail money. The surety company then becomes the party to pay the $5,000 to the court.
The surety company charges the defendant for this service. When the defendant appears in court, the surety company gets the entire $5,000 back. The defendant gets back a portion of the fee she paid to the bail bondsman.
Why Federal Court Is Different
Bail is typically quite high for federal criminal defendants. Bail companies usually will not secure bail in a federal court. In some cases, federal criminal defendants post real estate as security for their bail. This process requires an appraisal and a report from a title company. The process may take 10 days or more.
What Is an Immigration Bond?
When a foreign national has been arrested or detained for an immigration case, she needs to post an immigration bond. After she does so, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement may release her from custody until her court appearance. A party can determine the amount of a foreign national’s immigration bond by contacting the clerk of court for the federal court that is hearing the foreign national’s case. The party can also contact the foreign national’s bondsman or attorney, if she has an attorney.
- Los Angeles Police Department: Jail and Custody Related Questions
- New Jersey Judiciary, Superior Court Bail, for Criminal Justice Reform, FAQs
- The Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco, Fees and Bail Schedules
- Napa County Criminal Justice Network: Public In-Custody Report
- Mass.gov: Learn How Bail is Set
- The U.S. Department of Justice: Release and Detention Pending Judicial Proceedings
- Sheriff's Office, Broward County: Frequently Asked Questions
- Office of the Federal Defender: Eastern District of California, Detention Hearing
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.