For people who have been charged with a criminal offense in Los Angeles, the bail hearing can be a critical court appearance that may determine whether or not the defendant will remain in custody while his or her trial is pending. In many cases, what happens at the bail hearing will have an impact on how the rest of the case proceeds.
Under our legal system, a person who is charged with a crime is presumed innocence. However, there is a concern that those charged with crimes will try to flee the jurisdiction or will commit other offenses. As a result, courts have traditionally implemented a bail system that allows criminal defendants to be released from custody if they put up a certain amount of money to ensure their return to court. A defendant can post the full amount of bail, however because the amount of bail can be extremely high most people choose to secure a bond through a bail bond company. These companies typically charge around 10% of the bail amount. In exchange, they will post a bond on behalf of the defendant who would then be released from custody during the pendency of the case.
The bail amount will usually follow the bail schedule that is set by each individual county. This schedule will list the bail amounts for every criminal offense. Judges are not bound by the bail schedule and may set a bail amount that is either higher or lower than the scheduled amount based on the defendant’s history and the circumstances of the case.
When a person is first arrested and booked, the police may release him or her pending arraignment or may require that the defendant post bail consistent with the bail schedule. For many misdemeanors, the defendant will be “cited out” and will be released from custody. For felonies, law enforcement agencies will often require that the arrestee post bail.
Bail is first addressed at a defendant’s arraignment hearing. The arraignment is the first appearance in court at which the defendant is formally given notice of the criminal charges and is expected to enter a plea of “guilty,” “not guilty” or “no contest.” For most felonies and some misdemeanors, the prosecutor may request that bail be set while the case is pending. The defendant is entitled to a bail hearing. The arraignment judge will hear arguments from the prosecution and defense regarding bail. The judge may impose bail according to the schedule or may authorize the defendant to remain out of custody on his or her own recognizance (“O.R.”) while the case is pending. The judge may impose certain conditions of release that the defendant would be expected to comply with. This can include surrendering his or her passport to ensure the defendant does not flee the country. In many drug cases, the judge may allow the defendant to be released from custody on the condition that he or she enter a drug treatment program. For DUI defendants who have prior convictions, the judge may require the defendant to attend AA hearings or wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet as a condition of release.
In some cases, the prosecution may request a hold pursuant to California Penal Code Section 1275 PC. When there is a concern that the defendant will post bail using the proceeds from his or her criminal activities, the prosecution can request that any bail posted on behalf of the defendant first be examined to ensure that the money came from a legitimate source. This can delay and even prevent a person from being released.
Usually, a defendant can only address bail at the time of the initial arraignment and when he or she is arraigned again following preliminary hearing on a felony. Defendants will not be able to reargue bail once bail has been set unless there has been a change of circumstances that would justify either increasing or lowering bail.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense, it is crucial that you speak with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer right away. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who understands how to craft and present effective bail arguments.
For more information about Los Angeles bail hearings, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.