In Los Angeles County, after you are arrested and charged with a crime, you will most likely have the chance to be released on bail while your case in pending in courthouse.
The right to reasonable bail is protected by the California Constitution and Penal Code 1275 PC. At your arraignment, which is the first court appearance, you could be released “O.R.,” meaning own recognizance without having to post bail.
If the judge decides to set a bail amount, then your criminal defense lawyer can assist in showing you how to post bail in order to get you released from jail as soon as possible.
The term “bail” is described as financial assurance you will return to court after you are released from custody. Judges will use a misdemeanor or felony California bail schedule for each crime in order to decide the amount of bail.
Obviously, more serious crimes will result in the judge setting a higher bail amount. When determining a bail amount, they will review:
- the crime you are charged with,
- flight risk,
- risk to society,
- the bail schedule,
- your prior criminal history, and
- if you have ever failed to appear in court.
The two primary factors, however, are whether you are a flight risk and if you pose a danger to the community.
In order decide the flight risk question, the judge reviews if you have family, children, or property in California that you don't want to leave behind.
They will also your specific crime to determine the possibility you might commit additional crimes if they were to allow a release on bail.
Put simply, they need to determine whether you are a danger to the public due to your alleged crime. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will review more below.
What is Bail?
Put simply, “bail” is the amount of money a judge will require you to pay as an attempt to ensure you to appear at your scheduled court appearances.
Most of the time, bail is posted through a bail bondsman, who will normally make an agreement to post your bail in exchange for a maximum 10% of the full bail amount.
This charge is not refundable and is considered the price for freedom. It's how a bail bond company makes their money. In other words, It's the standard fee you pay the bail company to post the bail on your behalf.
While to normal bail fee is set at 10%, there are some circumstances where clients could qualify for a reduced 8% premium.
The bail bond company will typically require a criminal defense attorney to be retained before you can qualify for this reduction.
You could, however, pay the entire bail amount in cash without using a bail bondsman. When the case is resolved and bail is exonerated, you will get a check for the total amount posted in about 2 months.
What Determines the Bail in a Criminal Case?
In Los Angeles County, the judges have gotten together and have come up with what they characterize as a bail schedule. This is basically, a list of all of the charges that they can think of and they've put a bail on each.
For example, a bail for murder is a million dollars. It used to be $500,000.00; they've now changed it to $1,000,000.00.
Attempted murder is typically $500,000.00 and they've got a bail for every single crime and they call this bail the presumptive bail. What that means is, that's typically what they're going to set the bail at.
Now, there are factors that can change that. For example, the Coronavirus right now has made all bail in Los Angeles county, except for certain crimes, zero.
So, that's an example of them going outside of the presumptive bail for most cases.
For domestic violence cases, though, you're typically going to see a $50,000.00 bail. That has not changed despite the Coronavirus.
Danger to the Public and Criminal History
Other examples of when they might go outside the presumptive bail is if someone is particularly dangerous. They have a particular bad record.
They are a danger to the public. They are a danger to leave the country, for example, if they don't have a passport and they've got a bunch of failures to appear.
Then, the prosecutors could mount the argument for what's called a bail deviation, which basically means even though normally for example, the bail would be $50,000.00 for this case, we want the bail to be $250,000.00.
Their argument is that they think this particular person is a danger to the community, is a flight risk, whatever argument they want to mount and then the judge will decide.
Bail Argument by a Criminal Defense Lawyer
And of course, the defense gets to argue. On the flip side of that, when you're talking about bail in Los Angeles county, we're going to look at the defense argument that says, that bail is too high.
That bail is not a fair bail. That bail is not a reasonable bail, and the defense can mount an argument their client has:
- no criminal record,
- has good family ties,
- has a job,
- has property and
- is not likely to flee the jurisdiction.
Then the second argument they're going to have to deal with is the prosecutor potentially arguing that the defendant is a danger to the community.
If we can establish that they're not a danger to the community, then you have an argument that you might be able to say that the bail should be below the presumptive bail.
So, if the bail is $50,000.00, you could argue for either an OR release, saying the person should be released on their own recognizance with the promise to appear or you could argue for a lower bail.
Another factor that has come in in bail cases in Los Angeles is the Humphries case.
Basically, that says, it's not fair that somebody who makes a lot of money can afford a bail, while somebody who doesn't make much money, can't afford a bail.
These two people may have done the exact same crime, but one gets out and the other one doesn't. That's not fair, so you can also make what I would characterize as a Humphries argument.
This is where you're going to talk to the judge about how much the person makes who is in trouble, how much bail they can afford, and the judge must consider that in setting the bail.
However, some judges say they're considering it, but they still set the bail at the presumptive amount or they can even set the bail at a higher amount, if they can mount the argument the bail should be at that higher amount.
Why You Need a Criminal Lawyer
No matter who you are, no matter what situation you or a loved one finds themselves in, your best bet at getting the most reasonable bail is a criminal defense attorney.
If you're asking yourself, what should I do? Hire a lawyer or post a bail for the person? I think hiring a lawyer every time is the best solution because even if you post a bail in a case, that doesn't solve your case.
In fact, that doesn't do anything for your case. You still have to resolve your case.
You still have to either fight your case or negotiate your case and your best bet in doing that is having the best criminal defense attorney you can find. So, that would be your primary decision-making factor.
If you're looking for somebody who's got a lot of experience, I have nearly 30 years of experience. I've handled all sorts of cases. Pick up the phone.
Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles County and we offer a free case evaluation.