Bail For Criminal Cases In Los Angeles County
Having practiced criminal defense in LA County for the past twenty-five years, I've argued a lot of bail motions related to my clients being released from custody in Los Angeles. Each defendant in a criminal case is entitled to a reasonable bail. What does that mean? That means everybody should be able to bail out as long as a number of different factors are weighed by a judge and a reasonable bail is set so the person can be outside while their case is pending.
The judges in Los Angeles County specifically have got together and they have determined what they believe is the statutory bail for each crime. In other words, they've set a bail for every single crime there is and special allegation and probation violation and that's typically the bail the judge is going to set unless there's some sort of circumstances that warrant otherwise.
I'm constantly arguing all the time for bail being set for lower than the statutory scheme so my clients can get out, and they are able to fight their case from the outside to be able to assist with their defense because it is extremely difficult to fight a criminal case while you are in custody and to be able to properly assist your attorney.
Factors That Determine Bail Amount in Los Angeles Criminal Cases
The two biggest factors in a judge setting bail at arraignment in Los Angeles County have to do with whether or not the person that the bail is being set for is a flight risk and whether or not that person is a danger to the community at large. These are two different inquiries, and these are two different things that a judge will look at in setting a bail in a case in Los Angeles. As far as whether somebody is a flight risk, the judge is going to look at whether they have any prior failures to appear, how much time they're looking at.
If they're looking at life in prison that would obviously make it much more likely that they might be a flight risk. Other things that a judge looks at in determining whether someone is a flight risk is whether or not they live in the jurisdiction – how long they've lived in the jurisdiction.
Do they have family in the jurisdiction? Do they have a job in the jurisdiction? Do they have property in the jurisdiction? If all these answers are yes, then that's a pretty strong argument that that person is not a flight risk. They're not just going to run away when they have all these things to lose if they do that. So, a flight risk is really determined by whether or not the particular person will come back to court and address the charges.
As far as the danger to the community analysis goes, obviously the judge is going to look at the facts of the particular crime. For purposes of setting bail, a judge is to assume whatever the facts are, are correct. This is not true in a criminal case. The person is presumed innocent, but in setting bail, the judge is to look and assume that the facts are true.
So obviously, the more dangerous the person appears by way of the facts that they are charged with, the higher the bail is going to be. Also, if the person is doing things that could affect other members of the community – for example, running a methamphetamine laboratory where he could blow up a neighborhood. That would be a person that is very dangerous to the community. Attacking children – there's a number of different examples you could think of that person would be dangerous and the judge is going to set a high bail.
On the other hand, there's also a lot of crimes where the person isn't really a danger to the community and is not likely to do anything else in the same vein as what they are charged with. If that argument can be made in a criminal case, then a person has a real strong probability of getting a fair bail or even an OR release. An OR release is when the judge releases them on their own recognizance with a promise to appear at each court date and they are able to keep that OR release as long as they show up on time for all their court appearance.
Best Arguments To Be Made At A Bail Hearing In Los Angeles?
One of the best arguments obviously, is the person has no criminal record, has never had any problems, is not a danger to the community and is not a flight risk and the defense attorney is able to bring some solid facts to substantiate that. In that circumstance, the judge is either likely to set an OR or own recognizance release where the person doesn't have to post any bail or set a low bail that's very easy for the person to post the bail.
I also think hiring an attorney and being ready to address the charges is another thing that shows the person is going to stand and face the charges and not run away and is definitely not a flight risk, and therefore, a reasonable bail should be set on their behalf. If the person has no prior criminal record – that's a big reason that their bail should be set at a reasonable amount because they certainly are presumed innocent.
They're probably not looking at as much time in custody as somebody who has a serious criminal record and they are probably much more likely to show up. When it comes to setting bail and dealing with bail issues, the best thing to do is sit down with an attorney and give them all the details of the case and your personal situation and let them be the guiding force as it relates to bail. Let them make the crucial decisions and let them make the crucial arguments so you can get out as fast as humanly possible.
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