Once arrested and depending on the severity of the alleged offense, a bail amount will be set. This amount can be reduced or increased by the presiding judge. Most individuals who are arrested and held in county jail want to bail out as soon as possible. However, sometimes the bail amount set on their particular case may be too high for them to meet. Asking the court to reduce or eliminate your bail is a possibility in many instances. THE LAW OFFICES OF CASTILLO & ASSOCIATES aggressively attacks unreasonably high bails that are set for his clients. Unfortunately, this is a useful tool that is often overlooked by less experienced criminal defense attorneys.
1. What is Bail?
“Bail” is money that the court requires you to pay in order to assure your court appearances. You post bail by either paying the full amount in cash or, more commonly, through a bail bond. THE LAW OFFICES OF CASTILLO & ASSOCIATES has access and a long standing relationship with the top bail bond facilities and receives addition discounts on many of his clients’ cases.
You can secure a bail bond through a bail bondsman (or bail agent). Bail bondsmen agree to post your bail in exchange for a maximum 10% of the full bail amount. This 10% is a nonrefundable fee.
2. How Much is Bail?
The amount of bail varies depending on the crime involved. All counties have their own bail schedules that set forth the amount for bail for each type of crime. Bail amounts vary widely. If you have a bail set, contact our office immediately If you do not have sufficient funds to bail out, contactTHE LAW OFFICES OF CASTILLO & ASSOCIATES so that he can request a bail reduction hearing immediately.
3. What is a California Bail Hearing?
A California bail hearing presents you with an opportunity to ask the court to either
- reduce your bail, or
- eliminate bail altogether by releasing you O.R.
Reducing your bail
California bail hearing laws provide the judge with a great deal of discretion when it comes to setting, modifying, or eliminating your bail.
When deciding whether to modify your bail, the judge considers
- the seriousness of the alleged offense (including any injuries to the alleged victim, any threats to the alleged victim, whether any weapons were allegedly used, and whether any drugs were allegedly involved),
- your prior criminal history,
- your probability of appearing for future court appearances, and, most importantly,
- public safety.
But when you are charged with a serious felony or a violent felony, the judge cannot reduce your bail below the scheduled amount unless he/she finds unusual circumstances or good cause.
“Unusual circumstances” or “good cause” do not include the facts that
- you have made all prior court appearances, and/or
- that you haven’t committed any new offenses, but rather
- that there has been a change in circumstance, substantiated by new evidence.
The phrase “change in circumstances” refers to a change in the defendant’s situation, in the facts of the case, or in the proceedings. It does not mean that the judge who initially set bail committed legal error or didn’t properly analyze the case.
Important to note is the fact that even if you post bail, the judge still retains the discretion to order you into custody once your trial begins.
If you are unable to post bail…and therefore remain in custody…you are automatically entitled to have a bail review hearing within 5 days of the time that your bail was originally set.
And if the alleged offense is
- classified as a serious felony,
- classified as a violent felony,
- among a list of certain California domestic violence laws, or
- among a list of certain violations of protective orders,
California criminal law requires you to provide the prosecutor with a minimum two-day written notice of your intent to request a reduction at the bail hearing, so that he/she has the opportunity to ppose the matter.
Raising your bail
It is important to keep in mind that the judge has the discretion not only to reduce your bail, but to raise it as well. If you seek a bail reduction, the prosecutor may highlight information about which the court was otherwise unaware (such as a probation violation or parole violation).
If the judge raises your bail…even beyond that which you can afford to post…it is within his/her discretion to do so unless the judge has exercised a clear abuse of that discretion. The fact that you simply can’t afford to post bail doesn’t mean that the bail is inherently excessive or that the judge has abused his/her discretion12 …it simply means that you will have to remain in custody.13
Releasing you O.R.
In lieu of posting bail, you may ask the judge to release you on your own recognizance (more commonly referred to as an O.R. release). As long as you are not charged with a California criminal offense that is punishable by death, you are entitled to an O.R. release unless such a release
- will compromise public safety, or
- will not reasonably ensure your appearance for future court proceedings.14
If you or a loved one is unable to meet the bail amount set on your case, contact THE LAW OFFICES OF CASTILLO & ASSOCIATES immediately so that a bail reduction hearing can be filed on your behalf.