California Criminal Defense Bail Reductions
What is Bail?
“Bail" is an amount of money that the court requires one to pay in order to ensure appearance at upcoming court appearances. One can post this bail by paying the full amount in cash but most post bail through the services of a bail bonds company.
A bail bonds agent will agree to post bail in exchange for a service fee which is usually %10 of the amount of the bond. This service fee is non-refundable.
Upon posting bail, the arrested person is discharged from custody as to the offense on which the bail is posted.
How Much is Bail?
The superior court judges in each county, including San Diego, prepare, adopt, and annually revise a uniform countywide schedule of bail for all bailable felony and misdemeanor offenses.
As you can see, bail amounts can range from $100 (e.g. Public Nuisance) to $1,000,000 (e.g. Torture and Kidnapping) and beyond ( Where the Felony Loss Exceeds $3,200,000 the bail is $2,500,000 +).
The court does not necessarily have to adhere to the bail schedule, in certain circumstances, a peace officer, who has reasonable cause to believe that the amount of bail set forth in the schedule of bail is insufficient to ensure the defendant’s appearance or to ensure the protection of a victim, or family member of a victim, of domestic violence, may prepare a declaration setting forth the facts and circumstances in support of his or her belief and requesting an order setting a higher bail.
The magistrate is authorized to set bail in an amount that he or she deems sufficient to ensure the defendant’s appearance or to ensure the protection of a victim, or family member of a alleged victim, of domestic violence, and to set bail on the terms and conditions that he or she, in his or her discretion, deems appropriate, or he or she may authorize the detained’s release on his or her own recognizance.
If, after the application is made by the peace officer, no order changing the amount of bail is issued within eight hours after booking, the detained shall be entitled to be released on posting the amount of bail set forth in the applicable bail schedule.
Posting bail can put a serious strain on your finances. Also, the amount of bail is not certain. This is why it is important to retain an attorney to represent your interests or the interests of your loved one to ensure that he or she receives the lowest bail amount possible.
What is a Bail Hearing?
A bail hearing is court proceeding where one moves the court, through presentation of the law, evidence and argument, to:
- Reduce bail, or
- Do away with bail and release the accused O.R.
Reducing Your Bail
An accused who is represented by an attorney can quickly have a hearing to reduce bail, provided the attorney gives the prosecuting attorney two-days notice of the hearing.
At the hearing, the defense attorney can present evidence of and arguments regarding the record of past court appearances (if any) of the accused, his or her lack of a prior criminal record, evidence that he or she does not present a danger to the community, evidence of the his or her ties to the community and his or her ability to post bail.
In setting, reducing, or denying bail, the judge will take into consideration the protection of the public, the seriousness of the offense charged, the previous criminal record of the accused, and the probability of his or her appearing at trial or hearing of the case. Public safety is the primary consideration.
In considering the seriousness of the offense charged, the judge or magistrate will include consideration of the alleged injury to the alleged victim, and alleged threats to the alleged victim or a witness to the crime, the alleged use of a firearm or other deadly weapon in the commission of the crime, and the alleged use or possession of controlled substances by the accused.
Serious and Violent Offenses
Before a court reduces bail below the amount established by the bail schedule approved for the county, for a person charged with a serious felony or a violent felony, the court shall make a finding of unusual circumstances. “Unusual circumstances" means there has been a “change in circumstances" that affects the facts of the case or the proceedings. "Unusual circumstances" does not include the fact that the accused has made all prior court appearances or has not committed any new offenses.
Getting You Released O.R.
At the O.R. hearing, the defense attorney can present evidence of and arguments regarding the record of past court appearances (if any) of the accused, his or her lack of a prior criminal record, evidence that he or she does not present a danger to the community, evidence of the his or her ties to the community and his or her ability to post bail.
In determining whether to release the detained person on O.R., the court considers the potential danger to other persons, including threats that have been made by the detained person and any past acts of violence.
The type of charge you are arrested for makes a difference in getting released O.R.
An accused who is in custody and is arraigned on a misdemeanor, and accused who appears before a court or magistrate on an out-of-county warrant (only misdemeanors), is entitled to an O.R. release unless the court makes a finding that an O.R. release will compromise public safety or will not reasonably assure the appearance of the accused for future court appearance. Public safety is the courts primary consideration.
Can the Court Increase My Bail?
Yes. The court has the discretion to not only decrease you bail but also to increase your bail. At the bail reduction hearing, the prosecutor may present evidence to the court that the court was not previously aware of, such as a violation of probation, violation of parole or out of state prior criminal history. In some cases, it may be best to avoid a hearing and attempt to reduce bond through an agreement with the prosecuting attorney.
It is extremely important to consult with and hire an experienced and aggressive attorney before requesting a hearing to reduce bail. The Law Office of Edward Pamintuan will investigate the facts of your case to determine whether it is in your best interest to move for a reduction of bail and if it is in your best interest, then we will work, advocate and fight to reduce your bail.
Are there Any Other Conditions of Bail?
Yes, there are other, special conditions of bail that a creative and experienced attorney can use as bargaining leverage to reduce your bail. Agreeing to comply to special conditions of bail may convince the court to reduce the amount of bail in exchange for your promise to comply by the additional conditions.
Special conditions of bail include:
- Surrendering your passport
- Checking into a inpatient treatment program
- Wearing a “SCRAM" device
- Wearing a GPS Monitor while out of custody
- Submitting to “House Arrest"
- Submitting to a curfew
The conditions are limited only by the creativity of your attorney and due process considerations under the U.S. Constitution. In some cases, agreeing to comply to special conditions of bail will help the court feel comfortable reducing bail because the special condition may convince the court that the accused will not become a danger to the public, will not become a danger to his self or her self, will appear at future court hearings, or will not become a danger to the alleged victim.