What is bail and how does it work in Santa Clara County?
“Bail” refers to the amount of money that a defendant must pay (or “post”) to the Department of Correction (DOC) in order to be released from jail. Bail is intended to assure the DOC, prosecutor and judge that the defendant will appear in court as expected. Bail in Santa Clara County is first set by reference to the Santa Clara County Bail Schedule.
The bail amount is based on the crime(s) for which the individual is arrested as well as his or hire criminal history. For example, misdemeanor bail typically starts at $5,000 – $10,000. Felony bail starts at $25,000 and increases depending on the seriousness and number of charges.
The most common way to post bail is by securing a bail bond from a bail agent. Unlike a cash bail, you only pay a maximum 10% of the bail amount. The difference here is that the amount you pay to the bail agent is nonrefundable. You are paying that fee in exchange for the bail company posting the rest of the bond. If the inmate fails to make his court appearances, you are liable for repaying the full amount of the bail to the bondsman.
We recommend contacting VIB Law so that we can give you a recommendation to a reputable and experienced bail bondsman.
Just using the right bail agent can save you time and money.
Also, we may be able to schedule a bail hearing where we can argue that bail amount should be reduced or eliminated. For example, we may be able to convince the judge to reduce bail if the client agrees to wear a GPS bracelet or a SCRAM monitor. Or we may be able to argue that the client is a good candidate for “Supervised Own Recognizance” release due to his ties to the community or lack of criminal history.
You can obtain a bail bond within about 20 minutes, although it generally takes another 30 minutes to four hours for the defendant to be released from custody.
How does a cash bail work?
In addition to using a bail bondsman, you also secure release for a family member by paying the entire amount of the bail yourself. This process is known as paying “Cash Bail” even though it can be payed via a Cashier’s check or Money order as well.
If the defendant attends all court appearances, the bail will be returned at the end of the case (minus a small processing fee). If the defendant does not attend all of his court appearances, he forfeits that money to the court.
If you wish to pay “Cash Bail” using a cashier’s check, the funds must clear before the inmate will be released. Also, only California bank cashier’s checks will be accepted and must be payable to the Santa Clara County Judicial District.
All cashier’s checks will need the following information written on the check:
- The inmate’s full name
- The inmate’s booking number (also known as a “CEN” number)
- The inmate’s person file number (also known as a “PFN” number)
You will need to take this cashier’s check to “Admin Booking” located at 885 North San Pedro Street, San Jose, CA 95110 (map). There is a main window there. Walk up to the window and they will help you complete the process.