Written by attorney Carina Castaneda

Getting Your Bail Reduced

Many defendants are not aware or made aware by their defense attorney that they can request from the court that bail be reduced. If denied, the attorney should not be reluctant in asking the court to revisit the bail reduction issue and set it for a bail hearing. The general law and practice by judges in setting, reducing or denying bail takes into consideration certain factors: (1) public safety; (2) seriousness of the offense; (3) criminal record; and (4) flight risk. All reviewed under the lesser burden of proof of, clear and convincing standard and not beyond a reasonable doubt.

Public Safety

This is the court=s primary consideration. Many judges will closely scrutinize facts of the case, including but not limited to, if firearms or weapons were used in the commission of the crime; the gravity or the lack of bodily injury to a person (s); whether the defendant is affiliated with a gang; or the overall seriousness of the crime. The judge in assessing whether the defendant is a danger to the safety of any other person or to the community reviews the [email protected] of the case. The court will always review the defendant=s criminal history to ascertain whether he has led a crime-free life or if an extensive and serious prior criminal conviction(s) exists.

Seriousness of the Offense

The criminal charge alleged is also scrutinized. For example, murder is clearly a serious offense. But for lesser degree of offenses such as petty theft (shopliftingBespecially if the items are under $50) or public disturbance charges, the judge may be convinced in lowering the monetary bail or even release the defendant in his own recognizance. However, if these lesser degree of offenses are accompanied with firearm/weapon use or results in serious bodily injury to victim(s), the judge will conclude that the crime committed rises to the level that mandates a high bail amount or decline bail in its entirety.

Criminal Record

The prosecutor, defendant, and the court will generally be advised during arraignment of the defendant=s criminal history. This information is provided by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to both the court and the prosecution agency. Since arraignment is the first appearance of the defendant before a judge, it is usually at this proceeding that a defense attorney should request for a decrease in bail or in the alternative, to have the defendant released in his own recognizance. If the judge denies such a request, a good defense attorney should not simply let his client languish in custody but request a bail hearing for the next proceeding.

Flight Risk

The defense attorney should provide evidence that her client has set [email protected] in his community. The attorney should bring in factual evidence and testimony of, including but not limited to, defendant=s family ties, length of residence, employment, property, and business ties in the community. The goal is to portray the defendant of having a substantial and deep commitment locally. Of course, showing proof of good character (community, church volunteer work) is always helpful in assisting the judge in her assessment that she is making a wise decision in lowering bail or releasing the defendant in his own recognizance.

It may mean [email protected] work for your defense attorney but if your bail exceeds your ability to pay, a bail hearing should immediately be requested so you don=t [email protected] in jail waiting until your criminal case is concluded.

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