Using your California property to get somebody released from jail.

Immediately after an arrest, a person’s first priority is to regain liberty and get released from jail. Posting bail is usually the best way to free yourself from behind bars.

Bail is a form of court surety bond that is usually paid in cash, a bail bond or property that an accused or defendant provides to a court as a security that they will return to court at the specific date ordered. Failing to appear on the specified date, the court may order to cancel the bail and issue a warrant of arrest against the defendant.

A bail bond is defined as a written promise by a defendant or a surety (a firm who pledges to act in place of another) to pay an amount determined by the court should the defendant named in the document failed to appear in court for the designated proceeding at the date and time specified.

Normally, a judge is responsible for setting the amount of bail. However, in some instances, some jails in the U.S. have standard bail schedules indicating bail amounts for common criminals. This is specifically helpful for offenders of common crimes and those who want to be set free quickly. Paying the specified amount in the stationhouse bail schedule will immediately result to the release of an arrested person.

Using a property bond

However, there are cases when an arrested person lacks money to pay the bail set forth by a judge.  Or, there may be other situations where it is financially beneficial to post a property bond.

In these situations, judges have the authority to allow a defendant to post property (real property such as real estate) as bail. When an arrested person posts a property bond, he or she pledges the value of real property to the court as a guarantee that the defendant will return to the court when as ordered.  In California, the property must have equity that is at least 150% of the total bail amount.

Failure to appear in court on the date specified by the judge, the defendant might lose the property as the court will take the posted property like it was a cash bail. But before the court accepts the property as bail for the defendant, the judge must first set a hearing to determine the legal ownership of the property being offered as bond, as well as its current market value.

The Los Angeles Courthouse, in Los Angeles California, will schedule property bond hearings after a defendant submits the property bond documents. The Clerk’s Office of these courts will provide the information on the date of the hearing. Although sometimes, the clerk will assign a hearing date for a defendant.

What documents do you need to prepare for the hearing?

Original deed or a certified copy of deed for the property. In case the property is recently acquired, the defendant can provide the Grant Deed, Quitclaim Deed, Death Certificate or any other document/s that will ascertain the change of ownership of the particular property.

Persons whose names appear on the deed. The court will require that all persons whose names appear on the deed appear at the property bond hearing for questioning. Should the title of the property is held in Trust, the defendant must present to the court a copy of the Trust Agreement.

Current lot book guarantee. This is also an important document to present to the court during the hearing. However, the current log book guarantee or the preliminary title report should not be older than ten days to be accepted.

Property liens history. Defendants will also be required by the court to present the history of property liens from the title company. But these should not be mistaken as a property profile.

Current appraisal. Certainly, the court wants to determine the current market value of the property,  or simply put, how much the property  is worth.  If the property was bought in the last 12 months, the defendant should present a tax statement during the hearing to allow the court to determine the property’s current value.

Balance of all loans. If the home being presented as a property bond and is still under mortgage, the court will require the defendant to be provided with a list of payment amounts and loan balance for each bank or mortgage company. In such a case, the court will only accept the property as a bond if the equity is twice the amount of the bail.

Original homestead or certified copy of homestead deed. If the property or home is being homesteaded, the defendant must provide a copy of the original homestead deed or at least a certified true copy of the said document.

Affidavit / Undertaking for Justification of Bail and Acknowledgment. This document is available from the Clerk’s Office. The defendant should secure this document from the clerk for proper presentation before the court during the hearing.

It is also important for a defendant to know that he or she can always ask the judge to lower the amount required by the bail schedule should the suspect believes he or she could not afford the bail. A defendant may request the court to reduce the amount of bail either through a special bail hearing or during his or her arraignment. Each state has their procedure for this.

Lastly, it is important to know that the process of using a property bond usually takes several weeks.  Often, the Judge will ask for additional documents which often requires additional visits to court.