05 Nov Jail and Bail Procedures
When a person is arrested and placed in the custody of a jail, the jail location, the bail procedures, and the time periods for booking and release are highly dependent upon the city or community where the arrest occurred. The bail amount is set by either a judge or by the jail personnel using a countywide bail schedule established by the Superior Court judges. Once a bail amount is set, either cash, a cashier’s check or a bail bond may be posted at the jail or court. However, the jail facility will not accept the bail until the person arrested clears a records check.
The records check includes taking livescan fingerprints and then electronically sending them to the Department of Justice. Daily, the Department of Justice shuts down for maintenance from 2AM to 4AM. Sometimes the electronic system goes down and defendants who have arranged for and are attempting to have their bail posted, simply are left to sit for hours and even days until the system comes back on line. Also, many jails like the Long Beach Police Department do not assign a technician on every shift to process the records checks. Prolonged system outages and not staffing a technician are certainly a denial of due process which can result in a prisoner being held many hours or even days beyond the point when the posting of bail should have been accepted.
Where is the ACLU when you need them? After bail is posted, the defendant is released from custody and will remain free while the court case proceeds. Bail is posted to insure that the defendant will appear in court each and every time he or she is ordered to appear. Bail provides a financial incentive for the defendant to appear. A””bail bond”” is an insurance bond and all bondsmen represent insurance companies. Before posting a bail bond, the bail bondsman must get approval from their insurance Underwriter. The Underwriter generally requires two things in order to approve a bail bond. They are called the “”Premium”” and the “”Collateral””. The Premium is the cost of the bond and is 10% of the bail amount that was set by the jail or court. Collateral is something of value used to financially guarantee the bond until the defendant is done in court. The person that pledges the Collateral is called the Indemnitor or co-signer. No matter what the outcome of the court case (acquittal, conviction, diversion, probation and/or fine), once the defendant is done with all court appearances, the court will exonerate (release) the bond. When the court “”exonerates”” the bond, the bail bond is done and the Collateral is released back to the Indemnitor. Any fine, probation, public service, counseling, testing, etc. is strictly between the defendant and the court from that point forward.