There are various types of bail bonds available in California. One common type of bond is the “PR” bond. Here’s a look at what PR bonds are and who can get one.
What Is Bail?
First, let’s be clear on what bail actually is.
Bail is a sum of money. The defendant agrees to pay bail in exchange for early release from jail pending trial. As part of the agreement, the defendant must attend all scheduled court dates and follow their bail conditions.
When the defendant “posts bail” with the court, they’re free to go.
To be clear, judges don’t always grant bail. It depends on the criminal charges and the defendant’s record. And there are financial and legal penalties for breaking bail conditions. If you’re unsure about your bail conditions, consult a criminal defense attorney.
What Is a Bail Bond?
Think of a bail bond as a contract. In exchange for a fee, or collateral, a bail bondsman agrees to pay your bail.
- If the defendant misses a court date, or breaks bail conditions, the bail is forfeit. The bonds company pays the bail amount unless the judge agrees to reinstate bail.
- If the bonds company must pay the bail amount, you lose your collateral or premium. This protects the bail bonds company if the defendant violates bail conditions.
Bail is often expensive. Bail bonds make bail accessible to more defendants, which makes the justice system fairer.
What Is a PR Bond?
As mentioned, there are different types of bail bonds.
A “personal recognizance” bond, or PR bond, means you’re released on your own recognizance. In other words, you’re released without paying any bail.
PR bonds are unique. All you need to do is promise to show up for future court dates without putting any money down.
How to Get a PR Bond
There’s a process for obtaining a PR bond in CA.
First, your defense lawyer must show that you’re not a “flight risk”. Meaning, you can be trusted to remain in the state and show up for court hearings. They’ll also show that you’re happy to follow any bail or bond conditions set by the judge.
The judge considers your criminal history, the charges against you, and your attorney’s arguments. If the judge grants the PR bond, you must ensure that you understand the bail conditions. Check with your attorney if you don’t know when to attend court.
Cost of PR Bonds
In CA, most bail bonds cost around 10% of the total bail amount. However, there’s no such cost for PR bonds. A PR bond means you’re free to go without posting bail.
Who Can Get a PR Bond?
You can get a PR bond if the judge accepts that:
- You’re not a flight risk
- You pose no threat to society
- You’re going to attend court dates
- You will follow bail conditions
If the judge won’t grant a PR bond, you could still get bail. However, you’ll need to pay the bail amount to secure your release.
Can You Get a PR Bond for a Felony?
In CA, you must normally post bail. However, there are some exceptions.
- You may be released on your own recognizance, meaning you won’t need to post bail.
- If it’s a non-bailable offense, you can’t be released before trial. Some highly serious felonies are non-bailable e.g. terrorism.
Always ask your defense lawyer for more information if you’re unsure about any part of your case.
How Long Does a PR Release Take?
It can take anything from a few hours to a day or two. It depends on how busy the courts are and whether it’s a weekend or public holiday.
PR Bond Violations
As with regular bail bonds, you must follow the court’s bail conditions. If you flee or fail to show up for court, the court issues an arrest warrant. Unless your defense lawyer can show there’s a compelling reason why you broke bail, you’ll be held until trial.
Pros and Cons of PR Bonds
There are pros and cons to PR bonds.
On the one hand, PR bonds are cheaper because you don’t pay a deposit to secure your release. They may seem more convenient, especially if you don’t have much income.
However, PR bonds usually come with strict bail conditions. For example, you may need to attend counseling or see a probation officer. Complying with PR bail conditions could mean paying various other (unexpected) costs.