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What is a PC 1275 Hold?

Posted by Dmitry Gorin | Nov 03, 2023

If you're charged with a crime in California, the presiding judge will determine if bail will be required for your pre-trial release and how much that bail will be. By law, bail money in California cannot have been obtained illicitly (i.e., through criminal activity).

If it is suspected that you have used (or will use) illicit funds to post bail, the court may place what's known as a "PC 1275 hold" on your bail. If this happens, your release from custody will be delayed, and your defense attorney will have to prove the origins of the bail money before procuring your release.

PC 1275 Hold in California
A "PC 1275 hold" could be placed on bail if there is reason to believe it came from illegal activity.

Simply put, a PC 1275 hold is placed on a defendant's bail because there is reason to believe that the money being used for the bail was acquired by the commission of a felony, such as drug sales.

The name “PC 1275 hold” comes from California Penal Code 1275.1 PC, the statute defining the rules regarding the bail hold. After the court decides to place a hold on a defendant's bail, they can challenge the hold at a PC 1275 court hearing.  

The court must remove or release the hold if it can be shown, by a preponderance of the evidence, that their bail money was legally obtained.

The bail amount in a case will always vary depending on the crime the defendant is accused of committing. California counties have their bail schedules listing the amount for specific alleged criminal acts.

Judges have the authority to increase or decrease bail amounts depending on the facts of the case. Also, defendants can request a bail hearing to ask the judge for a reduction in the bail. Further, judges can also set, modify, reinstate, or exonerate a defendant's bail at their arraignment.

PC 1275 Hold - Explained

Penal Code 1275.1(a) stipulates that bail "shall not be accepted unless a judge or magistrate finds that no portion of the consideration, pledge, security, deposit, or indemnification paid, given, made, or promised for its execution was feloniously obtained."

To that end, a PC 1275 hold is typically imposed when there is suspicion or evidence that the bail money or collateral offered to secure a defendant's release is tainted by criminal activity.

This can include funds obtained through drug trafficking, money laundering, or any other unlawful means. When this hold is placed, it demands that the origin of the bail money be proven lawful before the defendant can be released on bail.

A PC 1275.1 hold can be initiated by a judge, prosecutor, or the arresting officer if they have probable cause to believe the money used to procure bail is (or will likely be) derived from criminal activity, in whole or in part. This kind of hold is most frequently requested when the criminal charges in question involve illicit funds, such as:

When a PC 1275.1 hold is placed on your bail, it effectively suspends the bail process, which means that even if you have the necessary amount for bail (or have someone to post bail for you), you cannot secure release from custody unless you get the hold lifted.

What Does the Law Say?

Penal Code 1275 PC says, “(a) (1) In setting, reducing, or denying bail, a judge or magistrate shall take into consideration the protection of the public, the seriousness of the offense charged, the previous criminal record of the defendant, and the probability of his or her appearing at trial or a hearing of the case. The public safety shall be the primary consideration. In setting bail, a judge or magistrate may consider factors such as the information in a report prepared per Section 1318.1.

California Penal Code 1275 PC

(2) In considering the seriousness of the offense charged, a judge or magistrate shall include consideration of the alleged injury to the victim, alleged threats to the victim or a witness to the crime charged, the alleged use of a firearm or other deadly weapon in the commission of the crime charged, and the alleged use or possession of controlled substances by the defendant.

(b) In considering offenses wherein a violation of Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 11350) of Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code is alleged, a judge or magistrate shall consider the following: (1) the alleged amounts of controlled substances involved in the commission of the offense, and (2) whether the defendant is currently released on bail for an alleged violation of Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 11350) of Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code.

(c) Before a court reduces bail to below the amount established by the bail schedule approved for the county, in accordance with subdivisions (b) and (c) of Section 1269b, for a person charged with a serious felony, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 1192.7, or a violent felony, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 667.5, the court shall make a finding of unusual circumstances. It shall set forth those facts on the record. For purposes of this subdivision, “unusual circumstances” does not include the fact that the defendant has made all prior court appearances or has not committed any new offenses.”

What Are Some Examples?

EXAMPLE 1: John is charged with drug trafficking in California, and his bail is set at $200,000. His cousin Fred quickly brings the cash to bail John out of jail, but due to the nature of the crime, prosecutors put a PC 1275 hold on it because they have probable cause to believe the cash is drug money.

It will now be up to John and his attorney to demonstrate the cash belonged to Fred and was not obtained through drug trafficking.

EXAMPLE 2: Emily is charged with multiple counts of felony theft. Her parents pay a bail bondsman a commission to procure a bail bond to get her out of jail. Even though Emily didn't put the ball up herself, prosecutors place a PC 1275 hold on her bail because they haven't recovered the stolen merchandise, and they suspect Emily will pay her parents back the commission money with illicit funds.

At that point, Emily's parents may have to prove they can pay off their credit card out of their income before the hold will be released.

EXAMPLE 3: David is charged with money laundering in a larger organized criminal scheme. David puts his house up as collateral for a bond, but prosecutors suspect he bought his home with the proceeds of illegal activity. They put a PC 1275 hold on his bail until David can prove he paid for the house legitimately or come up with another traceable way to post bail.

Can You Challenge a PC 1275 Hold?

Yes. If a PC 1275 hold is placed on your bail, you have the right to challenge it. The judge will then hold a 1275 Bail Hearing where the burden of proof is on you and your attorney to provide concrete evidence that the bail money comes from legal sources. The type of evidence needed usually includes financial documents such as the following:

  • bank statements,
  • credit card statements,
  • pay stubs, and
  • income tax returns.

These should conclusively support the defendant's claim regarding the legal source of the funds. Your attorney might also introduce testimonies or affidavits from individuals who can affirm your financial status.

For example, if the bail money was borrowed from a friend or family member, that person could be requested to testify or provide a written statement specifying the lending circumstances.

Post-Hold Proceedings

If your attorney successfully proves the legality of the bail money by a preponderance of the evidence, the PC 1275 hold is released, and you can be set free on bail. If you cannot provide substantial proof that no part of your bail comes from illicit sources, the hold stays in place, your bail is rejected, and you are effectively denied bail pending trial.

Sometimes, a bail bondsman can help secure the removal of a 1275 hold. Contact us for a case review. Eisner Gorin LLP has offices in Los Angeles, CA.

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About the Author

Dmitry Gorin

Dmitry Gorin is a licensed attorney, who has been involved in criminal trial work and pretrial litigation since 1994. Before becoming partner in Eisner Gorin LLP, Mr. Gorin was a Senior Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles Courts for more than ten years. As a criminal tri...

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