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Being arrested in California is a frightening and potentially life-altering experience. It can be especially terrifying to be in custody, which is why most people are anxious to make bail. However, bail can be excessively expensive, putting a financial strain on the defendant and his or her friends and family. Having a capable Los Angeles bail hearing attorney on the case can be enormously helpful. With their legal knowledge, they may be able to get your bail reduced or dropped entirely. Contact an experienced California bail hearing attorney at this firm today to learn more.
What Is Bail?
Bail acts as a financial promise that the defendant will appear for subsequent court dates. The defendant may pay the entire amount of bail with cash, a personal check or cashier’s check. Because the amount of bail is usually substantial, it is common for defendants to use a bail bondsman. The bondsman puts up the full amount of the bail on behalf of the defendant in exchange for receiving no more than 10 percent of the total amount of the bail. This 10 percent is the bondsman’s commission and is not refundable. Sometimes the bail bondsman will only take eight or nine percent of the amount if the defendant is represented by a criminal defense attorney. Working with a bail bondsman means that the defendant only has to come up with a fraction of the total bail amount. Still, this can be an excessive amount of money depending upon how much bail is set for.
How is Bail Determined in California?
Each county in the state sets its own bail schedule. Accordingly, counties can set vastly different bail amounts for the same crime. Still, crimes that are of a less serious nature will have smaller bail amounts while more serious crimes come with larger bail. The amounts can range from $10,000 or less for minor crimes, but can rise to multiple millions of dollars for serious felonies. Nearly all defendants are eligible for bail in California, but there are exceptions. Crimes that may carry a penalty of life imprisonment or the death penalty typically are not eligible.
What Is the Bail Hearing?
Even though each county sets a bail schedule, judges are given some latitude when it comes to setting actual bail amounts. The judge has the discretion to reduce, raise or even eliminate bail depending upon the circumstances of a particular case. A skilled, experienced Los Angeles bail hearing attorney is more likely to be able to help a defendant have their bail reduced or dropped. That’s because skillful negotiation and creative thinking may be the keys to saving the defendant a great deal of money.
The California bail hearing is essentially the defendant’s opportunity to ask the judge to reduce or drop their bail. It’s important that there be some logic behind this request. Simply stating that the defendant cannot afford the bail is not a sufficient argument. Instead, it is up to the California criminal defense attorney to come up with reasons why the defendant should be eligible for reduced bail or to be released on their own recognizance.
How Does a Judge Decide to Reduce or Eliminate Bail?
Judges look at a number of different factors in making or changing a bail decision. The bail hearing is not the time for determining the defendant’s guilt or innocence. Accordingly, the precise circumstances of the accused crime may not play a large role in the judge’s decision making. Instead, the judge will look for evidence that the defendant has significant community ties, the seriousness of the accused offense, the likelihood that the defendant will appear for future court dates and whether or not the safety of the defendant or the public will be adversely affected by the defendant’s release. If you have made all court appearances to date, have not been accused of any subsequent crimes and have a long history in your community, then there is a good chance that your bail will be reduced or dropped.
Being Released on Bail or on Your Own Recognizance
In an effort to reduce the amount of bail you owe or to convince the court to release you on your own recognizance, or OR, your Los Angeles bail hearing attorney will make suggestions to the court that will provide greater assurances that you will appear for future court dates. These suggestions may include that you will move into an in-patient treatment facility, that you will submit to house arrest, that you will surrender your passport and driver’s license or that you will submit to periodic reporting to a probation officer. While any of these restrictions may certainly limit your freedom while you are awaiting trial, they are all preferable to having to remain in custody.
Experienced Los Angeles Bail Hearing Lawyers
Confidence, skill and experience matter when it comes to successfully managing bail hearings. The creative attorneys at this firm understand the bail schedules in each of the counties surrounding the metropolitan Los Angeles area. Moreover, we are familiar with the judges and prosecutors who handle these cases, which essentially gives us insider knowledge regarding how they have approached cases that are similar to yours in the past. Put our considerable knowledge to work for you by hiring us as your Los Angeles bail hearing attorneys. Our proven track record of getting bail reduced or dropped for clients speaks for itself.