A Closer Look at the Bail Bond System

For many poor people in U.S. and in Los Angeles, incarceration and a high bond set by a judge can change a person’s entire life in an instant. The ability to pay an entire cash bond is a near impossibility for lower income individuals, and for those who live paycheck to paycheck, incarceration can have devastating consequences.

Some Basics Regarding Bail

When an individual is charged with a crime and held in jail, the courts will set a bail hearing. During the hearing, a judge will set bail based on a number of factors, including the severity of the crime, past criminal history and whether or not the individual has a job. If the judge sets bail and the individual charged cannot afford an all cash bond, it is time to hire a bail bondsman.

How Bail Agents Help

A bail agent allows individuals, especially those with limited income, to gain their freedom while fighting their case. A person charged with a crime pays a small premium to the bail agent, which is a percentage of the total bail. The bail agent then takes on full responsibility for the entire amount.

Once an individual pays the premium, the bail agent immediately begins the process of gaining that person’s freedom. The time it takes to release that individual once the bond is paid depends on the jail and how quickly they can process the paperwork. In Los Angeles, the process usually takes less than a day.