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How Bail Bonds Work in the State of California

All residents of California have a right to affordable bail options, unless there is sufficient evidence that is produced in court to indicate criminal history and risk of flight. Multiple state codes are used to regulate bail bonds in California and this falls under the purview of the State Insurance Department. However the bail industry is also governed by California’s Penal Code.

Requirements and conditions for a bail bondsman in California are provided in California Insurance Code, Div. 1, Part 2, Ch. 7, and Section 1800-1823. The three types of bail licenses provided in California are bail agents’ license, bail permitees’ license and bail solicitors’ license. A corporation may also hold the license. The bail bondsman is permitted to arrest the defendant in case he or she fails to appear in time for trial. California bail bonds have no remission period. Forfeiture may be considered in cases where the case is dismissed within 15 days of arraignment, where the court clerk has failed to mail the forfeiture notice within 30 days to both the agent and surety, if the defendant has appeared with 180 days or if the court deems the cause for non-appearance as acceptable.

California Codes for bail bonds is covered under Section 1268-1276.5 of the California Penal Code. Some of the main features of the codes are as follows.

  • Admission to bail refers to the order of the court or judge to discharge the defendant from custody. (1268)
  • In case of loss or destruction of the bond the entries made by the court clerk are considered as prima facie of the execution of the bond.
  • Bail may also be accepted and permitted by an approved officer of the law or court of the judicial district where the offense was alleged to have been committed, and by the clerk of the superior court in which the case against the defendant is pending. (1269b)
  • A schedule of bail for bailable felony offenses is regularly revised in order to ensure uniformity in the state of California. (1269b)
  •  For defendants who fail to appear for the trial as assured in the bail bond Section 1305 and 1306 of the Penal Code apply.
  • In case of a violent felony the court will set a hearing where in evidence from past hearing will be considered to determine whether bail will be granted or not.
  • In case of an offense that may be awarded a death sentence bail cannot be granted if the proof of guilt is evident. (1270.5)


If you or a loved one is in need of a bail bond the essential points to remember are firstly that the bail will be granted on the basis on the seriousness of the offense and the defendant’s criminal history. Secondly, you need not put up the money for the bail yourself and can contact a licensed bail agent who will do so on your behalf. This way you don’t have to tie up your own money and also the agent will be more accustomed to the procedure for getting bail. Bail may be granted by not only a judge but also an approved officer of the law or the court. Finally in case of non-appearance for the trial the bail bondsman has the right to arrest the defendant.


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Last modified: 01.10.2014