Written by attorney Hussein Ali Chahine

What is Bail, Why is it Required, and Can Bail be Reduced?

If you have been arrested, normally you will not have to stay in jail while you are waiting to appear in court. A judge will set a bond, sometimes called bail. Most counties have a “bail schedule," which is a list of various Penal Code, Vehicle Code, and Health and Safety Code violations, and a corresponding bail amount. These are the “presumptive" bail amounts, but the actual amount of bail can be deviated either higher or lower, depending upon the facts of the case and the background of the accused.

Once bail has been set, it may be posted in one of several ways: Cash bail; Government bonds or Real Property; or a Bail Bond. The last is the most widely used. The bail bondsman normally charges a fee of approximately 10% of the bond amount and they might require a cosigner or collateral. You may also be released from jail on your own recognizance, your promise to return to court on the date and time specified.

The Right to Bail Bond

If you are arrested in California, you have the right to a reasonable bail bond before conviction, pursuant to the California and U.S. constitutions. An arrest due to a felony or misdemeanor in Los Angeles and the surrounding Southern California counties means you will be taken to jail and “processed." Being arrested or knowing you are going to be arrested and not knowing how to get back your freedom can be one of the most stressful and frightening events in your life. Knowing about your right to bail and bond is your first step in your fight for your freedom.

Why Bail Bond is Required

The purpose of bail bond is to allow an arrested person to retain his or her freedom until he or she is convicted of the crime, to ensure that he or she shows up at subsequent criminal proceedings, and to protect the community against the probability of unreasonable danger posed by the defendant. The amount of bail bond must be no more than what is reasonably necessary to keep him or her from fleeing before a case is dismissed. If the defendant appears in court at all his or her scheduled time of appearances, the court refunds the bail. But if the defendant does not show up, the court keeps the bail, and issues a warrant for the defendant's arrest.

Bail Reduction

At times, a criminal defense attorney may be able to convince the court to lower the bail amount substantially, especially if the bail fee is too high for the crime the suspect is accused of committing. In making its determination whether to reduce bail, the court will consider some of the following factors:

· 1. The nature of the offense;

· 2. The circumstances leading to or surrounding the offense charged;

· 3. The weight of the evidence against defendant;

· 4. The defendant's mental condition, length of residency in the community, employment history, financial resources, and family ties, which may lower the probability of the alleged criminal to flee or commit another crime;

· 5. The defendant's history of convictions, past and present conduct, including any record of previous flight to avoid prosecution or failure to appear at court proceedings;

· 6. Whether the defendant is on any probation, parole, or other release pending completion of sentence or already on release, pending resolution of another criminal proceeding;

· 7. The probability of danger that the defendant poses when he/ she is released into the community and the probability of intimidation and danger to victims; and

· 8. The source of the funds used to post bail.

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