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What exactly is bail and how does it work?

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Bail can be a scary topic for families trying to get their loved ones out. Here’s what you should know about bail and how we can help.

The Concept of Bail

What is Bail?

“Bail” is money that a court requires you to pay to get out of jail in exchange for the assurance that you keep coming to your future court appearances. You post bail by either paying the full amount in cash or, more commonly, through a bail bond.

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. What’s interesting is that if your case gets dismissed, if the prosecutor rejects your case, or if there is a new arrest in the future, you still lose this money.

How is Bail determined?

The amount of bail is determined by the California state legislature, but a judge is able to either follow that recommended amount, increase it, or decrease it. In fact, counties have determined their own bail schedules. Here is the Los Angeles County 2015 felony bail schedule, and you’ll see that your bail could range from a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars depending on the crime alleged (and your criminal record).

Bail can put a serious strain on your finances. This is why it is important to request a bail hearing to ease some of this burden. We have helped convince judges time and time again to reduce bail to an affordable amount, allowing families to reunite while still going through the criminal justice system.

What is a Bail Hearing?

A bail hearing is a formal hearing before a judge where the judge will listen to both sides in determining how much bail to set. Without a bail hearing, a judge will unilaterally determine bail just based on the alleged charges – without considering any other evidence, information, or corrections that need to be brought to the court’s attention.

The judge will consider the following factors in determining your bail:

  • the severity of the alleged offense, any injuries to the victim, any threats to the victim, the number of victims, the use of any weapons, the quantity of any drugs;
  • your prior criminal history
  • your ties to the community, including your family ties, where you live, your likelihood to attend court again, your job, your citizenship status, your ability to travel; and
  • public safety.

If I’ve done a Bail Hearing, Can I do Another One?

Yes and no. If you do another one, the judge will need to follow the previous ruling unless and until your attorney can present any new evidence called “change of circumstances.” If there is a change of circumstance since the last time bail was considered, the judge can listen to that evidence in order to make a new determination.

This includes a change of circumstance to the defendant’s situation, the facts of the case, or any change in proceedings and charges. It works both ways. If you commit new offenses, or if the prosecutor alleges new offenses against you, the bail can be increased.

Are there notice requirements for bail hearings?

Yes, while generally both the attorneys and a judge can agree to hear it at a mutually convenient time, if either side wants to, they can insist on waiting. For instance, if you haven’t posted 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. If the offense is a serious or violent felony or a list of enumerated offenses, then the 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 oppose the matter.

What is O.R.?

It stands for “own recognizance.” It means instead of paying money to get out of jail, sometimes a judge will allow you to get out of jail free. Remember that Monopoly card? That’s your O.R. card. It basically is a promise that you will come back to court and you won’t have to pay anything. Note that there are several offenses that make it impossible for you to get O.R. even if a judge wanted to.

How can Kundani & Chang LLP help me on my bail matter?

We have helped countless families before, and we can probably help you too. We are experienced in the legal system and know the right factors to focus on. We know what judges and prosecutors are afraid of and so we can make sure their fears are resolved while still ensuring that you get to return home. We can also propose creative solutions to bail problems that come up, including restricting your travel, placing conditions on your release, and monitoring you by less restrictive means than incarceration.

If you are looking for professional Bail services, call our office today at Bridge Law Firm.

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We want you to feel comfortable discussing your legal issue with us, so we offer a free consultation to learn about your problem. Contact us today to setup a time to come in and talk with our team.