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Bail Hearings in California Criminal Cases


This is an important topic because a lot of times people don’t understand how criminal cases work and want to get out of custody and deal with their case from the outside.

Sometimes it’s very difficult to do so.  The bottom line is, if a criminal defendant is in custody with a bail that they can’t post and they’re trying to figure out how they can do a bail hearing so that they can get out of custody, fight their case from the street, or just not be in custody anymore, then their attorney can file a bail motion and have a hearing on it. There are some important things to know about bail in a Los Angeles criminal case.

To give readers a some useful information on bail hearings in criminal cases, our California criminal defense attorneys are providing an overview below.

Change of Circumstances in Determining Bail

The key thing though to understand as least in Los Angeles county is that the judge is not going to change a bail once it is set unless one side or the other can show that there’s changed circumstances.  In other words, let’s say at the arraignment the bail is argued.

If you’re gong to argue a bail and try to get a person out, you’d better be ready right from the beginning because once you make that argument and once the bail is set, that’s going to be the bail in the case. Bail Hearings in California Criminal Cases

In order to prove changed circumstances, an example I can think of is, let’s say that after a preliminary hearing in a case some of the charges get dismissed against a criminal defendant.

That could be grounds to change the bail because now there’s changed circumstances. They don’t have any charges pending against them so the bail should not be as high, for example.

Or maybe the judge sees that the case is not as serious as the prosecutors were indicating at the time the bail was set and agrees to lower the bail.  But, a lot of people are crying about getting bail motions.  You’re not going to get a bail motion if you can’t prove there’s changed circumstances.

Now, let’s say if you appear on a case and you want to do a bail motion?  You have to give the prosecutors five days’ notice.  You’re typically going to be best served if you file a written motion with the judge and then the prosecutors can oppose the motion if they chose or file their own written response to it — their own opposition to it.

The judge can ask the probation department or the OR unit in the particular courthouse to weigh-in on the issue and say whether or not they think you should be released OR or under other certain conditions, and then ultimately the judge will make the decision.

Factors Considered by Judge on a Bail Motion

When deciding on a bail motion, the judge is looking at two important things.  Number one, are you a flight risk?  In other words, if the judge lets you out on a lower bail will you run away and never come back on the case?

If you can show that you’ve got family ties in the community, property in the community, have lived there all your life, have hired an attorney, have children — in other words, have roots in the community, then you can mount a strong argument that you’re really not a flight risk and you’re going to make all your court appearances and you’re going to show up when you’re supposed to.

The other important thing at a bail hearing in Los Angeles county that the judge should be looking at is whether or not the person is a danger to the community, and usually that has to do with them committing more of the same types of crimes that they’re charged with.

So, if someone’s a child molester and they’re trying to get bail, one of the things the court is going to look at is, if they let the person out on a lower bail will that person continue to molest children.

Obviously, they’re not going to want to let them out if that’s going to be the case.  Of course, you could think of all kinds of different scenarios depending on what the charges are in a particular case.

Another thing in addition to those two big factors flight risk and danger to the community, the court is going to look at the person’s criminal record and they’re going to look to see if that person has any prior failures to appear in court.  If they do, that would be a good indicator they probably shouldn’t lower the bail for that particular individual.

Seeking Lower Bail or Release on Own Recognizance

So, there’s a whole bunch of factors that go into bail and whether or not it can be lowered at a bail hearing, whether or not the person can be released on their own recognizance.

Once you hire your criminal defense attorney you can discuss that with them and in my opinion you should trust them as far as whether or not you realistically have a chance to get a lower bail or no bail at all.

Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. We are also located at 633 West Fifth Street Los Angeles, CA 90071. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 374-3952.

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Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

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