How Bail Bonds Work
If someone is charged with a criminal offense, the court will require that you post bail before the judge will release you from jail, while you are awaiting trial. A Bail Bond is a contract between a state licensed Bail Agent and the signer or cosigners. The purpose of bail is to provide the court a guarantee that the defendant will appear in court on the trial date.
The courts of each county or state set what is called a “Bail Schedule.” This schedule presents the dollar amount for the bail, depending on the arrest charges. The bail can be enhanced for a variety of reasons including the severity of the crime, the history of the defendant, etc. To bail someone out, you can put up the entire bail amount in cash (not check or credit card), and wait for the courts to return your money after the case is done, minus deductions for any fines, fees and/or restitution from your cash bond before returning the balance, if any.
Bail Agents make the process much easier by agreeing to secure the release of the defendant for a fee (10% in California) of the face amount of the bail. Once the fee has been negotiated and the arrestee or co-signer agrees to take responsibility for the face amount of the bail, the Bail Agent delivers the bond to the jail and the defendant is released from custody.