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Frequently asked question about Bail Bonds in Santa Barbara

How does the bail process work in Santa Barbara?
What is Bail?
When talking about bail, what do you mean by the term undertaking?
Must you always use a bail bondsman in Santa Barbara?
What is the purpose of bail?
Is bail a matter of right?
Does the bail bond continue forever, can you get it back?
What if the defendant absconds?
In what instances will the bail be forfeited?
If the defendant does not appear and the court orders a forfeiture, can it be set aside if he later appears?
If the defendant has absconded, what must the bail fugitive recovery person be able to show? Is that person a bounty hunter?
What if the underlying criminal charge is dismissed?
When can bail be increased?
What else may happen when a defendant fails to appear?
What is an immigration bond?
What is a bail bond indemnitor?


How does the bail process work?
Posting of a bail bond in Santa Barbara. This process involves a contractual undertaking guaranteed by a Santa Barbara Bail Agent and the individual posting bail. The bail agent guarantees to the court that the defendant will appear in court each and every time the judge requires them to.

For this service, the defendant is charged a percentage of the bail amount. Before being released the defendant or a relative or friend of the defendant, typically contacts a bail agent in Santa Barbara to arrange for the posting of bail. Prior to the posting of a bail bond, the defendant or a co-signer must guarantee that they will pay the full amount of bail if the defendant does not appear in court.
Typically, a family member or a close friend of the defendant will post bail and cosign. Collateral is not always required for a person to be bailed from jail. Often a person can be bailed from jail on the signature of a friend or family member. Cosigners typically need to be working and either own or rent a home in the same area for some time.

After an agreement is reached, the bail agent posts a bond for the amount of the bail, to guarantee the defendant’s return to court.
If the defendant "skips", the cosigner is immediately responsible for the full amount of the bail. If the defendant is located and arrested by the bail agent the cosigner is responsible for all expenses the bail agent incurs while looking for the defendant.

What is Bail?
The term Bail is used in several distinct senses: (1) It may mean the security—cash or bond—given for the appearance of the prisoner. (2) It may mean the bondsman (i.e., the person who acts as surety for the defendant`s appearance, and into whose custody the defendant is released). (3) As a verb, it may refer to the release of the defendant (he was bailed out). The first meaning is the most common and should be employed for clarity.

Admission to bail is the order of a competent court that the defendant be discharged from actual custody upon bail. The discharge on bail is accomplished by the taking of bail (i.e., the acceptance by the court or magistrate of security—either an undertaking or deposit—for the appearance of the defendant before a court for some part of the criminal proceeding).

Bail is evidenced by a bond or recognizance, which ordinarily becomes a record of the court. The bond is in the nature of a contract between the state on one side and the defendant and his sureties on the other. The agreement basically is that the state will release the defendant from custody the sureties will undertake that the defendant will appear at a specified time and place to answer the charge made against him. If the defendant fails to appear, the sureties become the absolute debtor of the state for the amount of the bond.

When talking about bail, what do you mean by the term undertaking?
An undertaking is a permissible type of bail security. The taking of bail consists of a competent court accepting an undertaking of sufficient security for the appearance of the defendant, according to the terms, or the surety will pay a specified sum to the state. Corporate sureties are commonly used, and the court will accept an admitted surety insurer`s bail bond if executed by the insurer`s licensed bail agent and issued in the insurer`s name by an authorized person.

Must you always use a bail bondsman in Santa Barbara?
The defendant, or any other person, may deposit the sum mentioned in the bail order or bail schedule. Cash is accepted, and it is the practice for each court to adopt a written policy permitting acceptance of checks or money orders, upon conditions that tend to assure their validity, in payment of bail deposits. Some courts have a maximum amount over which a personal check will not be accepted. Depending upon the jurisdiction, government bonds may be accepted.

What is the purpose of bail?
5The purpose of bail is to assure the attendance of the defendant, when his or her presence is required in court, whether before or after conviction. Bail is not a means of punishing a defendant, nor should there be a suggestion of revenue to the government.

Is bail a matter of right?
Although the right to bail has constitutional recognition in the prohibition against excessive bail, bail is not always a matter of right. However, with certain exceptions a defendant charged with a criminal offense shall be released on bail. Persons charged with capital crimes when the facts are evident or the presumption great, are excepted from the right to release on bail. However, a defendant charged with a capital crime is entitled to a bail hearing in the trial court to determine whether the facts are evident or the presumption great. A crime is a capital offense if the statute makes it potentially punishable by death, even if the prosecutor has agreed not to seek the death penalty. It is presumed that the risk of flight of the defendant is great when he or she is facing death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Does the bail bond continue forever, can you get it back?
When the bail has served its purpose, the surety will be exonerated (i.e., released from the obligation). Exoneration normally occurs when the proceeding is terminated in some way or on the return of the defendant to custody. After conviction, the defendant appears for sentence. If sentenced to imprisonment the defendant is committed to the custody of the sheriff, and the liability of the surety terminates. You will not receive any money back that you have paid a bail bondsman.

What if the defendant absconds?
The surety or depositor may arrest the defendant, or authorize and agent to do so for the purpose of surrendering him into custody to ensure his future appearance. This extraordinary power of the bail bondsman is of ancient origin. When bail is given, the principal is regarded as delivered to the custody of his sureties. Their dominion is a continuance of the original imprisonment. Whenever they choose to do so, they may seize him and deliver him up in their discharge, and if that cannot be done at once, they may imprison him until it can be done. They may exercise their rights in person or by agent. They may pursue him into another state; may arrest him on the Sabbath; and if necessary, may break and enter his house for that purpose. The seizure is not made by virtue of new process. None is needed, it is likened to the rearrest by the sheriff of an escaping prisoner. The following may be authorized to arrest a bail fugitive:A certified law enforcement officer.A person licensed by the State to do so (i.e., holding a bail license in another state and authorized in writing by the bail or depositor to make the arrest). A person contracted and authorized in writing by the bail or depositor to do so, Bail Fugitive Recovery Person.A private Investigator.Persons doing the foregoing have been called bounty hunters, yet the term does not fit the facts of today`s world, they are acting under contract.

In what instances will the bail be forfeited?
A judge must in open court declare forfeited the undertaking of bail, or the money or property deposited as bail, if, without sufficient excuse, a defendant fails to appear for any of the following: (a) Arraignment, (b) Trial, (c) judgment, (d) any occasion prior to the pronouncement of judgment if the defendant`s presence in court is lawfully required, or if the defendant fails to surrender in execution of the judgment after appeal.

If the defendant does not appear and the court orders a forfeiture, can it be set aside if he later appears?
A court will sometimes order bail forfeited on the defendant’s nonappearance, then vacate the forfeiture to reinstate the bail when the defendant appears and offers an explanation for the absence. Some instances of this would be the nonappearance because of death, illness, or insanity, or detention by civil or military authorities, and if the absence was not with the connivance of the bail (acquiescence of the bonding company to the absence). An example of illness would be where the defendant is confined to bed by reason of a doctor’s order. If a defendant flees and the prosecuting agency does not seek extradition the bail may be exonerated.

If the defendant has absconded, what must the bail fugitive recovery person be able to show? Is that person a bounty hunter?
That he possesses the authority to arrest by virtue of satisfying any licensure requirements a state may impose upon such a person. Additionally, he or she must have in their possession proper documentation of authority to apprehend issued by the bail or depositor, which shall include the name of the individual authorized to apprehend the bail fugitive, the address of the principal office, the name and business address of the bail agency, or other party contracting with the individual authorized to apprehend a bail fugitive. In a historical sense they are a bounty hunter as they generally are contracted to do this and are remunerated for their services by the bail agency or other contracting party. The bounty hunters of old are not the bail fugitive recovery persons of today. Some jurisdictions require significant training and licensure of persons engaged in the recovery of bail absconders.

What if the underlying criminal charge is dismissed?
Statutes provide for exoneration of the surety in the event of dismissal. However, there is usually a time period within which the prosecuting agency may seek to rearrest and charge with a public offense arising out of the same act or omission upon which the action or proceeding was based. You will not receive any money back from the bail bond company.

When can bail be increased?
After a defendant has been released, the court in which the charge is pending may require him to give additional bail in an amount specified or to meet an additional condition upon a finding made in open court that the defendant has failed to appear; or that additional facts have been presented that were not shown at the time of the original release order, and the court may order him to commitment unless he or she gives such bail or meets such other conditions.

What else may happen when a defendant fails to appear?
The court may issue a bench warrant for his apprehension and arrest for the failure to appear upon the underlying charge, which would thus be a separate triable offense, separate and distinct from the original charge. The appropriate agency will enter each bench warrant issued on a private surety—bonded felony case into the national warrant system (National Crime Information Center (NCIC)).

What is an immigration bond?
An immigration bond issued for delivery of an alien guarantees that the individual will appear for all I.N.S. hearings on time and depart the United States at a specified date.

An immigration bond conditioned for maintenance of an alien, guarantees that the person will be financially independent during the time he/she is in the United States.

What is a bail bond indemnitor?
A bail bond indemnitor is the co-signer for the bail bond. The indemnitor is responsible for seeing that all premiums are paid for a defendant’s bail bond.

Bail bonds are normally good for one year. If the case continues for longer than a year, additional premiums will be due and collected for each year the case goes on.

Bail bond premiums are not refundable, as they are used for the bail agent`s expenses, etc. The indemnitor is also responsible for additional expenses incurred by the bail agent in the transaction of a bail bond, such as long distance calls, travel, etc.

An indemnitor is no longer liable for the defendent`s bond when the defendant has completes all of his/her court appearences, and when all premiums have been paid. It is best to contact the bail agent when the bond is exonerated by the court, for the expedient return of any collateral pledged and to confirm that the bond is exonerated.

In the event of forfeiture, the indemnitor is liable until the full amount of the bail has been paid, plus any expenses incurred, or until the court exonerates the bond. The bond then becomes void.

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