What is Bail?

bail bond

What is Bail?

The United States and the Philippines are the only two countries on Earth where commercial bail bond agents can legally post cash bail. Keep reading to learn more about bail in the U.S. 

Bail is money, or property, that is deposited or pledged to a court, in order to secure the release from custody of a defendant who has been arrested, with the understanding that the defendant will return for their trial and all required court appearances. If the defendant returns to make all their required appearances, bail is returned after the trial is concluded. If the defendant misses a court appearance, the bail is forfeited.

Bail practices vary by state and county, and bail amounts may vary depending on the severity of the crime for which the defendant is being detained.

In California, there are three ways to post bail: cash; a property bond; or bail bond.

To be able to post cash bail, one must pay the full amount in cash, or post a cashier’s check at the jail. Depending on the county, you may be allowed to use a credit card to post bail. If the defendant attends all required court appearances, the cash bail amount will be refunded. If the defendant fails to appear at any required court date, the bail may be forfeited (PC 1305).

The least commonly used form of bail is a property bond. Equity interest in real property is used to ensure an appearance in court. However, the value of the equity must be at least twice the bail amount. To obtain a property bond, the property must have been recently appraised, any liens disclosed and the property equity professionally estimated. If the defendant fails to appear in court when ordered, the county will place a lien on the property and can then foreclose on the property to recover the amount of bail.

The vast majority of people post bail using a bail bond because bail is often set too high for a cash payment. A bail bond is a contract between the defendant and a bail bond agent. Under this contract, the agent receives a nonrefundable premium, which is typically 10 percent of the total amount posted. In San Diego County, if an individual is charged with felony burglary, bail may be set at $50,000 (PC460a). In this example, the nonrefundable premium of $5,000 must be paid to the bond agent up front in order for the defendant to be released prior to their trial date.

If the defendant fails to appear in court, the bail bond agent retains the bail money. However, an agent will typically require some sort of collateral to be posted. This can be a house, vehicle or anything of value owned by the defendant. This collateral is used to cover a forfeiture of the bail amount to the court.

There are currently 500,000 people awaiting trial in U.S. jails because they are unable to post their set bail, which often results in far-reaching consequences such as loss of employment, dismissal from school or inability to provide for dependents.

For an interactive look at the current bail system, check out “The Bail Trap Game” by Brave New Films.

Join us on May 20th for a Fundraiser to Benefit Second Chance

Derek Clark is in the house! Second Chance is thrilled to welcome Derek Clark, "The Rapping Dad", to its May 20 fundraiser, “Orange is the New Black Season 2: Teens Behind Bars,” at Qualcomm Hall.

Clark, whose mother and stepfather (his biological father was in prison) turned him over to the California foster care system at the age of five, knows all too well about rejection, humiliation, emotional distress and anxiety – he lived it for the next 13 years of his teenage life. Through it all, Clark never gave up and went from victim to victor by defying the expectations imposed on him.  Clark inspires youth and adults to never give up and to not let the past limit their futures. He shares his message of courage, hope and perseverance to help others find the strength to never give up.

Wait…there’s more!

Acclaimed author and filmmaker Mitchell S. Jackson is also taking the stage as our keynote speaker. Jackson grew up during the 90’s in a neglected neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. During his childhood, those streets had fallen under the shadow of crack cocaine. At 15 he started selling drugs and at 19, found himself in prison. During his 18 months in prison he found an interest in literature and began experimenting with autobiographical writing.

Upon his release, Jackson earned his Bachelor's degree and received a Master of Arts in Writing from Portland State University, as well as a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from New York University, where he now teaches. His debut novel, The Residue Years, has already been made into a documentary feature.

You have an opportunity to meet these two extraordinary and inspiring individuals at our VIP reception at 6:30 PM. Tickets for the VIP reception with preferred seating are $150, or $100 with a valid student ID.

General Admission tickets are $75 and include the main event, an international food court, and cash bar. General Admission tickets are $30 with a valid student ID.

Local “photographer for social change” Michele Zousmer will have artwork on display and will be available to answer questions. Proceeds from the sale of her photographs will benefit Second Chance.

See you soon!

Questions? Contact Dawn Redo, Special Events Coordinator, 619-839-0964.

Shop at Jimbo's to Support Second Chance!

Jimbo's Customer Appreciation Sale Youth Garden

It’s on! Jimbo’s annual Customer Appreciation Sale to benefit Second Chance

Second Chance is proud to announce we have been selected as this year’s recipient of the Customer Appreciation Sale proceeds at Jimbo’s ...Naturally!                                                                                                                             
Second Chance will receive 5% of the entire day’s sales from all five San Diego County stores. Additionally, customers will receive a 5% discount on all purchases, and have the option of donating their savings to support our Youth Garden program!

This generous donation from Jimbo’s ...Naturally is an incredible gift to our Youth Garden; it is an investment in the futures of the youth we serve, and gives at-risk youth a chance to become successful, productive members of society.                   

Store locations:
•    Horton Plaza - Friday, April 21
•    Carmel Valley, Carlsbad, Escondido and 4S Ranch – Saturday, April 22                                    
Representatives from Second Chance will be on-site at all stores, between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m.      

Can’t make it to Jimbo’s but still want to support our Youth Garden? Make a secure online donation!

Or, visit one of our pop-up farm stands:
•    Second Chance headquarters, 6145 Imperial Ave. every Thursday, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
•    City Heights Community Development Corporation’s Fair @ 44th
•    San Diego County Office of Education  

All locations accept cash, credit/debit and EBT payments. For more information about our farm stands or the Youth Garden program, contact KK, our Youth Garden Manager at kkvernland@secondchanceprogram.org.


For those recently released from jail, adjusting to life on the outside can be extremely difficult.   Read on to learn about how to prevent recidivism.

It’s the last day of your sentence and you’re looking forward to breathing the free air again. You walk outside of the steel barbed wire fence at last and look at the open world before you. You take a big breath of fresh air and promise yourself you’ll never return to the cell where you spent the last twenty years.

For many, this moment of happiness is fleeting, as they soon discover they’ve been released into a world that turns out to be yet another prison cell with every door locked to them. Unfortunately, most prisoners are released with few options other than returning to crime, which inevitably leads them back to prison. They are thrust into an endless cycle of exclusion, unemployment, homelessness, and ultimately a return to the prison cell from which they were released. (67% of people released from prison in California return in one to three years.)

It is for this reason reducing recidivism is the key driver of Second Chance’s vision. Preventing recidivism means providing individuals with an opportunity to find housing, gain employment, access healthcare, regain a driver’s license, seek education and guidance. The world they knew before prison may have changed drastically – smartphones, online applications, automated systems, Facebook, Instagram – what does it mean and who will teach them?      

Seeking to answer that question, hundreds of individuals have come to Second Chance to participate in our Job Readiness Training (JRT) program and/or our Sober Living Housing program. JRT course activities are largely accomplished in a group setting to nurture teamwork and interpersonal skills. Upon graduation of the program, graduates receive two years of case management and assistance with job placement.

Some prisons are now offering opportunities for prisoners to learn the skills they need to succeed after prison, before their release. They run programs to teach inmates hard skills like engraving, baking, bicycle repair, laundry, janitorial, or culinary arts. Second Chance teaches participants how to utilize and best present these skills to potential employers.

Second Chance helps participants regain their self-worth and teaches them to apply their talents in an effective and productive way. Clients learn how to present themselves to employers and peers in a professional manner. It is the goal of Second Chance to help people leave their incarcerated lives behind and unlock the full potential that many of them do not yet know is there. Our ultimate goal is to lead the way to self-sufficiency, breaking the unrelenting cycles of incarceration and poverty.

- By guest blogger Oliver Brewer, student at College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA., and marketing intern for Second Chance.


Would you like to support the Job Readiness Training program? You can make a monetary donation today by contacting Maureen Polimadei at 619-839-0953, or by making a secure online donation.