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Bail Glossary

The following is a list of words and/or terms that one might encounter when dealing with administrative issues in California courts and jails:

Accused
The person against whom an accusation is made.

Absconding Debtor
A person who leaves a jurisdiction purposefully to avoid legal process.

Action
All the steps by which a party seeks to enforce any right in a court or all the steps of a criminal prosecution.

Arraign
Arraignment of an accused consists of calling upon him by name, reading to him the charges in the arrest documents, and demanding of him how he pleads. This hearing may be combined with a right to counsel hearing.

Arrest
To deprive a person of his liberty by legal authority.

Bail (bond)
A written obligation with or without collateral security, given to a court to guarantee appearance before the court.

Bail Bondsman
Any person in the business of becoming or engaging in a surety on a bail bond for compensation, and includes any agent of such person.

Bail Forfeiture
Order by the court that the surety pay to the court the amount of security pledged for failure of an accused to comply with the requirements of the bond.

Bail Schedule
A bail schedule is a list of crimes and the bails required to release the accused from custody. These bails vary from municipality to municipality. Judges can also change the amount of bail needed, as can factors such as the nature of the crime, criminal history, and the accused’s standing in the community.

Collateral Security
Any property or money pledged or given to guarantee bail.

Court Order
A command or mandatory direction of a judge which is made during a case. Also includes a command of the judge which established courtroom or administrative procedures.

Criminal Defense Lawyer
A criminal defense lawyer is a legal professional who organizes a case and represents someone accused of a crime. Everyone in America, citizen or not, is entitled to legal counsel before questioning can begin.

Defendant
A person required to answer a legal action or suit.

Felony
A serious criminal offense.

Incarceration
Imprisonment; confinement in a jail or penitentiary.

Initial Appearance
The procedure by which an arrested defendant is promptly brought before a judicial officer who advises the defendant of the charges against him, his right to counsel, and his first day to appear in court and establishes conditions of pre-trial release. It also includes a probable cause determination on a warrant-less arrest and advice of preliminary hearing in felony cases.

Licensed Bail Agent
A licensed bail agent is a person or company authorized by a governmental regulatory agency to arrange bail for people accused of crimes. Licensing ensures that your bail agent engages is legitimate practices and can be held accountable for any misdoings.

Lien
A claim upon the real property of another for some debt. The property remains in the defendant’s possession.

Misdemeanor
A minor criminal offense.

Plaintiff
A complaining party in a civil action.

Plea
An answer to a charge.

Posting Bail
Posting bail is the process by which the amount needed to release a person from custody is paid to the courts.

Public Defender
A public defender is a free lawyer provided by the courts to represent someone accused of a crime.

Surety
One who makes himself responsible for the defendant’s obligation to appear in court and agrees to pay money or do other acts in the event that the defendant does not appear.

Verdict
The finding of a court.

Warrant
A written order by a judicial officer commanding a peace officer to arrest the person named in it or to search for a seize property as described in it.