How Bail Works
Want to get out of jail after your arrest? That’s what bail is for. Depending on your offense, bail can allow you to get out of jail while awaiting your hearing in exchange for a fee. Bail is the collateral, and if you “skip bail” (don’t show up for your hearing), the judge can issue a warrant for your arrest.
Paying for Bail & Bail Bonds
Most people don’t have thousands of dollars in disposable income to throw down on bail, which is why many people utilize bail bonds. You may be able to post bail without using a bail bond if bail is set at an amount you can afford. Bail is set proportionate to the crime or crimes you are accused of.
How Bail Is Set
As we already mentioned, bail is set proportionate to the crime. The judge sets the bail at your initial appearance after you are arrested and booked. Some jurisdictions set bail by closely following bail schedules that are recommended by the county.
In San Bernardino County, bail can be as low as $196 for some misdemeanors and as high as $1 million for some felonies. Listed below are presumptive bail amounts for common crimes –
- DUI - $100,000 bail
- Drug Possession - $50,000 bail (plus enhancements)
- Rape - $250,000 bail
- Theft - $25,000 bail
Skipping Bail & Bench Warrants
Failure to appear is serious. If you post bail to await your hearing outside of jail but miss your hearing, the judge will issue a bench warrant, which is essentially a warrant to arrest you on site. You can face additional penalties if you fail to appear for your criminal hearing. Bail acts as a guarantee that you will return for your scheduled hearing, not a get-out-of-jail-free card.