Important Things to Know About Bail in a Los Angeles Criminal Case
There is one big thing that I feel like I have to mention on a criminal case in Los Angeles when you’re talking about a bail situation. This is a question that a lot of family members have and obviously criminal defendants have a different perspective because they’re the ones that are in custody.
Retain a Criminal Defense Lawyer First
That’s an important question and I get it, especially if you’re a criminal defendant you want to be bailed out, of course. You want to get out and fight the case from the street, but the reality is, bailing somebody out really doesn’t do anything for them as far as defending their criminal case.
It doesn’t do anything investigating a criminal case. It doesn’t do anything getting to fight for them if they’re innocent or getting a person who’s going to do damage control if they’re guilty.
The question to me, what do you do if you have a choice between getting an attorney and bailing the person out is very simple, very easy. Of course, I have an interest because I want to get retained on a case just like any attorney does.
But the reality is whether you retain me or another attorney and you should definitely retain an attorney in any criminal case because your control is on the line, your freedom is on the line, your liberty is on the line.
But, just because the person is bailed out does not do one thing to help them defend their case. It does not do one thing towards mitigating their criminal case. So you really haven’t done much by bailing the person out.
You basically put a Band-Aid on a bullet wound and let me tell you something, the damage from that wound is going to grow and grow and grow in a criminal case and the only person to stop is your advocate — is your attorney.
So, you must hire an attorney first and foremost. In fact, a lot of times I’ve been successful in getting bail reduced in criminal cases or even getting the person released on their promise to appear in court (OR Release), saving them money on a bail bondsman in the first place.
So, definitely you want to get a criminal defense attorney if you’re charged with a crime, and if it’s a choice between bail or the attorney, pick the attorney every time. Even if you don’t hire me. This is a crucial point when it comes to bail in Los Angeles.
Bail Setting in Los Angeles Court
Now let’s turn to what happens when you go into court and the judge has to set bail and that’s something important you need to realize. Just because you or your loved one post bail in a case, that doesn’t mean that’s what the bail is going to be in the case.
The police arrest people and they mess the bail up all the time. They’ve got to come up with a bail for a person because otherwise once they book the person, they need to set a bail. They just can’t keep the person in there with no bail.
They don’t even have that type of authority. They’ll get sued by the person if they don’t put a bail within a reasonable amount of time, so they’re going to put the bail on there.
When the prosecutors get the case and they review it, they may decide that the police gave you a $50,000 bail. We think it should be a $200,000 bail because of the charges that we filed, because of your criminal record, because of the danger you pose to the community, because we think you might be a flight risk.
So, that’s another reason to have an attorney when it comes to a bail situation, and that is when you appear for the arraignment in every criminal case, especially felony criminal cases in Los Angeles, the judge is going to set the bail and they don’t care what the police have already set the bail at.
You know what they’re going to look at? They’re going to look at the bail schedule. They’re going to look at your criminal record. They’re going to look at whether or not you’re going to come back to court.
They’re going to look at whether you have any failures to appear in the past, and you know who they’re going to be getting the information from when it comes to that? Not you. You’re going to get shut-down in two seconds trying to talk at your arraignment during a bail hearing.
They’re going to look at your criminal defense attorney and say counsel, tell me why the bail should be this or tell me why your client should be released with their promise to appear versus me setting the bail at so high mark that nobody could possibly post.
Bail Schedule in Los Angeles
Another thing that you have to be cognizant of and you won’t be cognizant of unless you talk to your attorney about it is what is the bail schedule for the charges that you face. In other words, the prosecutors are going to file certain charges against you.
The judges in Los Angeles county, at least at this point, they’re talking about bail reform and changing the whole bail laws at this point, but as we talk about this in 2020 and I put this post on the website, right now there’s a felony bail schedule for 2020 in Los Angeles county and typically that’s what the judge is going to set the bail at.
They’re going to look at what crime you are charged with. If you’re charged with murder, the bail is going to be set at $2 million, period. If there’s other enhancements or allegations, that may make the bail go up.
If you have a prior strike or strikes on your record, the bail is going to be double or triple of what it would normally be. If you’ve got gun allegations or any other enhancements — sex offenses — all are stacked, meaning let’s say you have six counts, they’re going to try to stack the bail for each one of those counts which you typically can’t do in a criminal case.
So, as you can see, I can go on and on about bail here, but it’s a serious situation. You need a serious attorney who knows what they’re doing who can fight to try to keep you out of custody. One who can fight to get the lowest bail because if the bail is not set at a reasonable amount you’re not going to be able to get out or your loved one is not going to be able to get out.
If your bail is set at such a high mark, all of your money is going to be taken to get out and all that does is get you out while your case is pending. That doesn’t do anything towards resolving your case whatsoever.
Bail Hearings in Los Angeles County
So, bail in Los Angeles County is a huge issue and you’ve got to bring somebody in there that knows what they’re doing, has been down this road before and had success. I have argued thousands of bail hearings over my time as a criminal defense attorney.
Another thing that you have to realize is, as the case goes on bail can change. If either side can show there’s changed circumstances in the case, the judge can be convinced to change the bail.
Here’s a scenario that I see all the time. Somebody uses the Public Defender or they use another attorney, the bail is set at a real high mark. Let’s say $500,000. That person can’t get out.
Now I get hired on the case because the family or the person in custody feels they want to hire a private criminal defense attorney because they realize what’s at stake. They say to me, Mr. Hedding can you please get that bail lowered?
I look at them and say, listen, if the bail’s already been set and it’s already been argued and the case has been pending, your bail is not going to be lowered because the judge is going to look at me when I try to lower that bail and say, okay counsel, explain to me why there’s changed circumstances since this bail was set. If I can’t articulate a strong argument then the judge is going to say no, I’m not changing the bail.
Getting Bail Lowered for Change in Circumstances
There are occasions where the defense can show there are changed circumstances. Maybe you do the preliminary hearing in the case and some of the charges get dropped or maybe the judge sees that this is not such a strong case against the defendant.
They see this is not such a dangerous situation that the bail should have been set this high in the first place. He says listen, I’ve heard the preliminary hearing. I find there’s changed circumstances. I’m going to lower the bail. I’m going to let the person out on their own recognizance, whatever the case may be.
Of course, there’s a flip side to that. If the prosecutors can show that you’re dangerous enough and this is a serious enough case where you are a danger to the community or a danger not to come back to court at some point, they can argue to raise the bail and say there’s changed circumstances.
We’ve done the preliminary hearing Your Honor and look at how dangerous this person is. Look at what this person has done and we think the bail should be doubled or tripled or whatever the case may be.
So, now you kind of have a feel for what a bail situation is. When you come in my office and we’re talking about bail and we’re thinking about how we’re going to deal with it.
Contact Hedding Law Firm for Help With Bail
I’m going to ask you a whole bunch of questions about your criminal record, about what the charges are, about what happened in the case and then we can look at the felony bail schedule together and I can give you an idea of what your bail may be set at or what your loved one’s bail may be set at.
Sometimes people are smart and they wait before the bail the person out because they’re going to hire an attorney which they know is more important than the bail and they’re going to see if that attorney can give them an idea of whether the bail can be lowered and the person can get out or maybe the person’s going to end up doing some time anyway based on what they did.
Who knows what the circumstance is, but before you deal with bail, before you deal with anything on your criminal case, get to an attorney immediately and let that attorney be your guide moving forward.
Hedding Law Firm is a top-ranked criminal defense law with highly experienced lawyers located at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. We are have an office 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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