Many defendants who have been arrested for a Los Angeles felony or misdemeanor offense have little or no prior experience in dealing with the criminal justice system and may suddenly find themselves being held in jail. This can be an incredibly stressful experience for defendants and their family. Most defendants are able to be released from jail pending the resolution of their case by posting bail. For many first-time defendants and their family, posting bail is completely foreign and it will be necessary to learn what bail is and how it works.
Under our legal system, defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, there is a concern that criminal defendants who are released from custody while their case is pending will try to flee the jurisdiction in order to avoid prosecution. To prevent this, Courts have traditionally relied on the bail system. Bail is money that must be posted so that the defendant can be released from jail while his or her case is pending. This money would be returned following the resolution of the case.
The amount of bail that is set will depend on the criminal offense that is charged as well as the county involved. Each county has a bail schedule that lists suggested bail amounts for various criminal offenses. After a defendant has been arrested, he or she will usually be given the opportunity to post bail while the prosecutor evaluates the case and considers charges. If the defendant does not post bail, he or she will have an arraignment hearing within a few days. Typically, the Court will hold a bail hearing at the defendant’s arraignment and will hear arguments from the prosecution and defense regarding the defendant’s bail. The judge may release the defendant on his own recognizance (commonly referred to as an “O.R. release”) and the defendant would not be required to post any bail. In determining a bail amount, the Court will consider factors such as the defendant’s criminal history and the severity of the current offense.
There are different ways that bail can be posted. The defendant can post cash bail in order to secure his or her release. To do this, the defendant would have to put up the entire bail amount. If the defendant does not miss court, he or she will have the money refunded by the Court 2-3 months after the case has been resolved. The Court does not pay interest on the bail posted. If the defendant misses court, the bail will be forfeited. In some cases, the prosecution will ask for a hold pursuant to California Penal Code Section 1275 PC when there is a concern about the source of bail money. If the Court is concerned that the bail posted may be the proceeds of a crime or was obtained unlawfully, the Court can authorize an examination of any bail money posted before releasing the defendant.
Most people do not have the funds to post bail and instead will secure a bail bond through a bonding company. The defendant or his or her family will pay a fee to the bail bond company (usually 10% of the bail amount) who will then post bail on the defendant’s behalf. If the defendant fails to appear in court, the bail can be forfeited. To secure their interest, bail bond companies often require that that defendants offer collateral to ensure the company can be compensated if the defendant skips bail. The bail bond company may also require that the defendant have a cosigner on the bond. The cosigner would accept financial responsibility if the defendant fails to appear in court and the bail is forfeited. If the defendant misses court but appears within 180 days of the notice of bail forfeiture and can provide a valid reason for missing court, the judge may vacate and exonerate the bond.
If you or a loved one are in custody and are considering posting bail, it is critical that you discuss your situation with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney immediately. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who understands the bail process and can best advise his clients and their families on how to proceed.
For more information about posting bail in Los Angeles, 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.