Getting arrested is a traumatic experience, not only for the suspect but also for people close to him or her (e.g. family members, romantic partners). This is especially true if the suspect is wrongfully accused. He or she will have to spend time in jail until proven guilty or otherwise.
Courts in California understand the possibility of innocence and the negative effects of the experience. So, they can set a bail that the defendant may pay so he or she won’t have to stay in jail and just show up for the start of court proceedings or the trial. The amount of bail that must be posted, however, can be staggering. In Orange County, the standard bail can range from $20,000 (e.g. embezzlement, extortion) to millions (e.g. possession of controlled substances, kidnapping with special circumstances).
For people who can’t afford the bail, there are bail bond agencies who serve the community by assisting individuals to pay for their bail. A bail bond agent signs a written document (the bail bond) stating that the agency will pay the full amount of the bail if the defendant fails to make the necessary court appearance. The agent acts as the guarantor—the primary person liable to pay the debt if the defendant flees or goes into hiding. This is why, before accepting to pay a person’s bond, a bondsman as well as the court (when setting the bail amount) determines a defendant’s flight risk.