Code Section Group

Penal Code - PEN


  ( Part 2 enacted 1872. )


  ( Title 10 enacted 1872. )

CHAPTER 1. Bail [1268 - 1320.5]

  ( Chapter 1 enacted 1872. )

ARTICLE 2. Bail Upon Being Held to Answer Before Indictment [1277 - 1281a]
  ( Article 2 enacted 1872. )


When the defendant has been held to answer upon an examination for a public offense, the admission to bail may be by the magistrate by whom he is so held, or by any magistrate who has power to issue the writ of habeas corpus.

(Enacted 1872.)


(a) Bail is put in by a written undertaking, executed by two sufficient sureties (with or without the defendant, in the discretion of the magistrate), and acknowledged before the court or magistrate, in substantially the following form:

An order having been made on the ____ day of ____, 20__, by ____, a judge of the ____ Court of ____ County, that ____ be held to answer upon a charge of (stating briefly the nature of the offense), upon which he or she has been admitted to bail in the sum of ____ dollars ($____); we, ____ and ____, of ____ (stating their place of residence and occupation), hereby undertake that the above-named ____ will appear and answer any charge in any accusatory pleading based upon the acts supporting the charge above mentioned, in whatever court it may be prosecuted, and will at all times hold himself or herself amenable to the orders and process of the court, and if convicted, will appear for pronouncement of judgment or grant of probation, or if he or she fails to perform either of these conditions, that we will pay to the people of the State of California the sum of ____ dollars ($____) (inserting the sum in which the defendant is admitted to bail). If the forfeiture of this bond be ordered by the court, judgment may be summarily made and entered forthwith against the said (naming the sureties), and the defendant if he or she be a party to the bond, for the amount of their respective undertakings herein, as provided by Sections 1305 and 1306.

(b) Every undertaking of bail shall contain the bail agent license number of the owner of the bail agency issuing the undertaking along with the name, address, and phone number of the agency, regardless of whether the owner is an individual, partnership, or corporation. The bail agency name on the undertaking shall be a business name approved by the Insurance Commissioner for use by the bail agency owner, and be so reflected in the public records of the commissioner. The license number of the bail agent appearing on the undertaking shall be in the same type size as the name, address, and phone number of the agency.

(Amended by Stats. 2004, Ch. 104, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2005.)


The qualifications of bail are as follows:

1. Each of them must be a resident, householder, or freeholder within the state; but the court or magistrate may refuse to accept any person as bail who is not a resident of the county where bail is offered;

2. They must each be worth the amount specified in the undertaking, exclusive of property exempt from execution, except that if any of the sureties is not worth the amount specified in the undertaking, exclusive of property exempt from execution, but owns any equity in real property, a hearing must be held before the magistrate to determine the value of such equity. Witnesses may be called and examined at such hearing and if the magistrate is satisfied that the value of the equity is equal to twice the amount of the bond such surety is justified. In any case, the court or magistrate, on taking bail, may allow more than two sureties to justify severally in amounts less than that expressed in the undertaking, if the whole justification be equivalent to that of sufficient bail.

(Amended by Stats. 1931, Ch. 1172.)


The bail must in all cases justify by affidavit taken before the magistrate, that they each possess the qualifications provided in the preceding section. The magistrate may further examine the bail upon oath concerning their sufficiency, in such manner as he may deem proper.

(Enacted 1872.)


All affidavits for the justification of bail shall set forth the amount of the bail undertaking, a notice that the affidavit shall constitute a lien upon the real property described in the affidavit immediately upon the recordation of the affidavit with the county recorder pursuant to Section 1280b, and the legal description and assessor’s parcel numbers of the real estate owned by the bail, which is scheduled as showing that they each possess the qualifications provided in the preceding sections, the affidavit shall also show all encumbrances upon the real estate known to affiants and shall show the number of bonds, if any, on which each bail has qualified, within one year before the date of the affidavit, together with the amount of each such bond, the date on which, the county in which, and the name of the principal for whom each bond was executed.

The affidavit shall also state the amount of each bail’s liability on bonds executed in previous years and not exonerated at the date of the execution of the affidavit and be signed and acknowledged by the owner of the real property.

(Amended by Stats. 1987, Ch. 828, Sec. 82.)


It shall be the duty of the judge or magistrate to file with the clerk of the court, within 24 hours after presentation to him or her, all affidavits for the justification of bail, by delivering or mailing them to the clerk of the court. Certified copies of the affidavits for justification of bail involving equity in real property may upon the written order of the judge or magistrate be recorded with the county recorder.

(Amended by Stats. 1988, Ch. 676, Sec. 1.)


(a) From the time of recording an affidavit for the justification of bail, the affidavit shall constitute an attachment lien governed by Sections 488.500, 488.510 and 489.310 of the Code of Civil Procedure in the amount of the bail undertaking, until exonerated, released, or otherwise discharged. Any release of the undertaking shall be effected by an order of the court, filed with the clerk of the court, with a certified copy of the order recorded in the office of the county recorder.

(b) If the bail is forfeited and summary judgment is entered, pursuant to Sections 1305 and 1306, the lien shall have the force and effect of a judgment lien, by recordation of an abstract of judgment, which, may be enforced and satisfied pursuant to Section 1306 as well as through the applicable execution process set forth in Title 9 (commencing with Section 680.010) of Part 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

(Amended by Stats. 2001, Ch. 854, Sec. 45. Effective January 1, 2002.)


Upon the allowance of bail and the execution and approval of the undertaking, the magistrate must, if the defendant is in custody, make and sign an order for his discharge, upon the delivery of which to the proper officer the defendant must be discharged.

(Amended by Stats. 1927, Ch. 733.)


A judge of the superior court within the county, wherein a cause is pending against any person charged with a felony, may justify and approve bail in the said cause, and may execute an order for the release of the defendant which shall authorize the discharge of the defendant by any officer having said defendant in custody.

(Amended by Stats. 2002, Ch. 784, Sec. 552. Effective January 1, 2003.)

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