Bail and Own Recognizance Release in Los Angeles County
In Los Angeles County, when you are arrested and charged with a criminal offense, you have the chance to be released on bail while your case in pending in court. In California, the right to reasonable bail is protected by the California Constitution and California Penal Code Section 1275. At the Arraignment, you could be released O.R., which means on own recognizance without having to post bail. In the event a bail amount is set by the court, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will counsel your family how to post bail, to get you released from custody as quickly as possible. Bail is financial assurance you will return to court after being released from custody. Judges use what is known as a "bail schedule" for each crime to determine the amount of bail. Typically, more serious criminal offenses will result in a higher bail amount. When the judge is attempting to determine a bail amount, they not only review the bail schedule, they will also review your prior criminal history, including whether you have ever failed to appear in court. The main determining factors the judge will use on whether to set bail include, if you are a flight risk and whether you pose a danger to the community. In order to make a decision on the flight risk question, the judge will review whether you have family, children, or some property in California that you probably don’t want to leave behind. The judge will also closely review your specific crime and circumstances in order to determine the chances that you might commit additional crimes if released on bail. In other words, are you a danger to the public due to your alleged offense? If the judge sets bail, that amount will be the bail throughout your case unless your Los Angeles criminal defense attorney can show that something has changed since the initial bail amount was set. Obviously, any changed circumstances would need to be something that would be beneficial for you. A common example would include a situation where the Los Angeles County prosecutor decides to dismiss a few of your charges that resulted in a high bail amount.
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer from Eisner Gorin LLP will initially focus on getting you released from custody as soon as possible. We believe our clients are best able to help in their defense when they are free to cooperate with our attorneys outside of a Los Angeles County jail facility. Our 60 years of combined experience in Southern California courts is an essential resource that our firm utilizes to get you released O.R., or getting your bail reduced. Our criminal defense strategy is to successfully present arguments to reduce your bail during the first court proceeding, known as the Arraignment. Now that we have covered a basic overview of bail above, let’s take a much closer at the process below.
What is Bail?
In simple terms, “bail” is the amount of money a court will require you to pay in an attempt to make sure you appear at your scheduled court appearances. In most cases, bail is posted through a bail bondsman, who will typically agree to post your bail in exchange for a maximum 10% of the full bail amount. The 10% charge is NOT REFUNDABLE. Consider it the price for your freedom. It’s the fee you pay the bail company to post the bail on your behalf. Although the standard bail fee is 10%, there are certain circumstances where clients can qualify for an 8% premium. The bond company requires that the criminal defense attorney has already been retained before qualifying you for a reduction. You also have the option of paying entire bail amount in cash. At the end of the case, if bail is exonerated, you will receive a check for the entire amount posted in about 8-10 weeks.
How Much is Bail?
This is always the most common question. As stated above, the exact amount of bail will vary depending on the crime you allegedly committed. Courts will use bail schedules that will set the amount of bail for each type of crime. The Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, states the following:
The purpose of the bail schedule is to fix an amount upon which a person who is arrested without a warrant may be released from custody prior to appearance in court. At and after a defendant's first appearance, pursuant to California Penal Code section 1269b(b), the amount of bail, if allowed, shall lie with the discretion of the judicial officer before whom the defendant appeared, and could be less or more than the amount set in the bail schedule, subject to the provisions of California Penal Code section 1275.
For example, if you review this Los Angeles County 2018 Felony Bail Schedule, you will notice that bail amount will be 20,000 for less serious offenses with a top term of 3 years. Criminal offenses with a top term of 10 years carry a $55,000 bail amount. However, criminal offenses that carry a life sentence carry a bail amount of $1 million dollars. Call a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer for more detailed information.
How Can You Post Bail?
In California, there are 3 ways you can post bail after you have been accused of a criminal offense:
Cash Bail – California Penal Code Section 1269 - To post cash bail, you will need to have the exact amount of cash for the entire bail amount or post cashier’s check at the jail. However, in most cases, it’s not likely you will have that much cash available. If you are able to post cash bail, that amount will be returned to you as long as you make all your court appearances. If you fail to appear at any court appearance, you could forfeit the cash bail, and it will not be returned (California Penal Code Section 1305).
Bail Bond – California Penal Code Section 1276 – Posting bail through a bail bond is the most common form of getting released from jail on bail. A bail bond is essentially a contract between you and the bail bond company. This contract states if you promise to appear in court when ordered, they will post a bail on your behalf. Of course, it’s not free. You have to pay them a premium, which is normally 10% of the bail amount. Again, this premium is not refundable, but could be reduced to 8% of the bail amount, if you have a criminal defense lawyer. For example, if we use some simple math, a bail amount of $10,000 means you would have to pay the bail bondsman $1,000. They will typically require some type of collateral to post your bail. This could be a house, vehicle, or other items of value. If you fail to appear in court, the collateral will be used to cover the forfeiture of the bail amount. If you fail to appear in court as promised, the bail bond agent forfeits the bail money. This is the reason why they will monitor your activity to make sure you appear in court.
Property Bond – California Penal Code Section 1276.5 – A property bond is where you post your equity interest in real property to make sure you appear in court, but the value of your equity has to be at least twice the bail amount. To get a property bond, the property needs to have been recently appraised. The court will generally grant a property bond and release you from custody, as long as the judge believes there is a sufficient amount of equity in the property. If you fail to appear in court as promised, the county will place a lien on the property, and will foreclose on the property to recover the amount of bail.
What is a California Penal Code Section 1275 Hold?
Under California Penal Code Section 1275, the Los Angeles County prosecutor can place you on a “1275 hold.” If they do, even if you post bail, you will NOT be released until the 1275 hold is lifted. To get the hold lifted, the judge has to be satisfied that the funds used to post your bond are not in anyway connected with the criminal conduct for which you were arrested and charged. This is designed to prevent you from bailing out of jail with money you obtained from criminal activity. There are a few ways our criminal lawyers could have the 1275 hold removed. The most common method is to prove to the court the money that was used to post bail came from a legal and legitimate source of income, such as your employment. If the prosecutor does not challenge our argument, the judge will typically lift the 1275 hold. However, if the prosecutor decides to object to the money used for your bail, you are entitled to a hearing where our criminal attorneys can present evidence and call on witnesses to prove the bail money came from a legitimate source, and has no connection with the crime you are accused of committing. Once the hearing is over, the judge will make a ruling on our motion to have your 1275 hold lifted. If lifted, you can post bail and will be released. If denied, you will remain in custody until your case has been completed.
What is a Bail Hearing?
In basic terms, a bail hearing provides you with a chance to request a reduction in your bail or even eliminating your bail and getting released on your own recognizance (O.R.). The judge will typically consider whether you are a danger to the public and the chances you will appear in court. In deciding these main issues, they will review the seriousness of the charge against you, which would include any injuries or threats to the victim or their family, and if weapons or drugs were involved in the crime. To determine your likelihood that you will appear in court, the judge will review if you have any previous cases where you failed to appear. Finally, the judge will also review your criminal history. It should be noted that the judge also has the discretion to raise your bail, especially if there are allegations of a probation or parole violation. It should also be noted that if you are in custody and have not posted bail, you are entitled to a bail review within 5 days from when your bail was set by the court. This would apply if your offense is domestic violence related, a violent or serious felony, or a violation of a protective order.
What is a Release on Own Recognizance?
A release on own recognizance is more commonly known as an "O.R. release." You may ask the court for an O.R. release if you are not charged with a crime that is punishable by death, and such release would not endanger the public, and there is a reasonable belief you would make your future court appearances. O.R. releases are common in many first time misdemeanor cases, such as driving under the influence. In such cases, all you would have to do is promise to appear for all your future court appearances. In some borderline cases, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers may propose to the court some bail conditions to secure an O.R. release. These bail conditions could include:
- You wearing a GPS tracking device
- Placing you on house arrest with electronic monitoring
- You wearing SCRAM device for alcohol monitoring
- Placing you in an inpatient treatment facility
In O.R. releases, the experience of our criminal lawyers and familiarity with the court can play an important role. There are many other potential bail conditions we could ask the judge to consider. If we are successful in convincing the judge to release you O.R., you will not only secure an immediate release from custody, you would also save a substantial amount of money in bail cost. In some cases, before a judge makes a ruling on an O.R. release, they will want investigators to give them a recommendation. These investigators will typically want to verify your community connections, and will contact family members and employer.
Failing to Appear in Court
When you are released on your own recognizance, you will have to sign a release agreement that states: (1) you promise to appear for future court dates; (2) promise to comply with conditions set by the court; (3) promise you won’t leave the state without permission; (4) waive extradition if you fail to appear and arrested in another state, and; (5) confirm you were informed of the penalties if you failed to appear. Once the agreement is executed, if you fail to appear, the court will issue a bench warrant for your arrest and you could face the following penalties:
- Misdemeanor offense – if your case was a misdemeanor crime, failing to appear is also a misdemeanor crime that could result in 1 year in a Los Angeles County jail, and a $1,000 fine.
- Felony offense – if your case was a felony crime, failing to appear is also a felony crime that could result in up to 3 years in a California state prison, and a fine up to $5,000.
Contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been arrested in Los Angeles County, getting bailed out of jail can be complicated and expensive. Hiring a bail bonds company to post your bail, before consulting with a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Eisner Gorin LLP, might not be in your best interest. For example, bail amounts can often be reduced and judges might agree to release you without posting bail. When you hire a bail bond company and released, your fee must be paid, even if your case is rejected or dismissed. Our criminal defense law firm has been helping people stay out of jail on bail or O.R. release for decades. Our lawyers will focus on getting you released as quickly as possible. We have effective strategies to present to the court to reduce bail or secure an own recognizance release at your first court date. We offer a free 24/7 immediate response. Call our criminal lawyers at 877-781-1570.
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Los Angeles, CA 90067