Bail generally refers to the dollar amount fixed for an arrest warrant or for a defendant booked into the San Diego County jail system. An individual can post bail in order to obtain release from jail or to recall a warrant. Posting bail generally refers to the process of paying out bail money or using property as collateral. The bail money and or property help to ensure that a defendant will make his or her court appearances. Failure to appear in court can result in the forfeiture of bail money and the filing of criminal charges for willful failure to appear.
Right to Bail
A person has the right to bail except in cases alleging a capital offense and in cases where the prosecution can establish by “clear and convincing evidence” that there is a substantial risk of likelihood that release will result in harm to others. A person does not have a right to bail in cases involving a violation of felony probation. Still other individuals have a right to bail, but have a “hold” placed upon them, usually by a California Department of Corrections Parole Agent (“parole hold”), or by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“immigration hold”). Posting bail in cases involving a “hold” may be a waste of money.
In any case, please contact us for specific legal advice on whether and when to post bail.
Changing the Bail Amount
The amount of bail is obviously important, because if bail is set too high a person will have to fight his or her case from jail.
Our goal is to lower the bail amount or to secure release without posting bail. There are several opportunities throughout the criminal process to change the bail amount or even to obtain release without bail. For example, we may contact a duty judge available 24-hours a day to handle requests to adjust bail in extraordinary situations involving a recent arrest where the accused has never appeared in court. We can also request a reduction in bail at the first court appearance, and every defendant is entitled to a bail review hearing at a second court appearance, usually within 3-court days. Finally, we can adjust the bail at any other court hearing where we can establish a “change in circumstances.” In short, at each stage of the court process, a person has a right to a court hearing on issues relating to the amount of bail, and we may present family members, character letters and other evidence and witnesses at these hearings.
We have successfully attacked bail problems at every stage of the criminal court process, including, for example, securing release on bail in cases involving murder, rape and drug crimes. Call us for legal advice on your particular case.
Three Ways to Post Bail
Posting bail can be accomplished in three ways: through a bail bondsman (most popular), cash bail, or a property bond.
The first way: Most people elect to post bail through a bail bondsman. Bail agents can quickly get people released who don’t have the money to post the full amount of the bail and who don’t want to wait for a court hearing to have their bail adjusted. The bail agent will require a non-refundable “premium” of up to 10% of the bail amount, and the agent may insist on collateral for the balance of the amount of bail, either in the form or a promissory note, refundable credit card payment, pink slip, or a deed to property. Establishing a good relationship with a bail agent is critical for those defendants and their families posting bail though a bail bondsman. The bail agent is essentially taking responsibility for making sure the person makes it to court. Since the bail bondsman is constructive custody of the person on bail, the agent may arrest and surrender the defendant back to custody if the bail agreement is violated. At the end of the case, the bond is exonerated and any collateral on the bond will be released by the agent. We can refer you to a reputable San Diego bail agent to immediately post bail.
The second way: Posting cash bail can be quickly accomplished by providing a cashier’s check to the San Diego County Sheriff jail facility in the full amount of the bail. The entire amount of the bail is generally refundable. Persons posting bail, especially cash bail, must be prepared to prove that all of the cash used to post the bail was not derived from a felonious source. In some cases, cash bail may also be subject to forfeiture.
The third way: A property bond is the least popular way to post bail because it takes the longest amount of time and is the most complicated procedure. San Diego property bonds generally require the property to be located in San Diego. The property bond essentially deeds real property to the Clerk of the Court for the duration of the case. The property must have equity in the amount of twice the bail. The problem with property bonds is that they can take up to a week to perfect and they require that a package of information be put together for the approval of the prosecutor and judge involving. For example, a preliminary title report, deed of trust, promissory notes, declarations from the property owners, and new insurance policy, can all be required before the property is accepted as bail.
Property bonds can be an effective form of release in serious cases where the bail amount is especially high and resources can better be put to work on a person’s defense.
When to Post Bail
Whether and when to post bail is a very important decision, unless you have unlimited resources and cannot spend even one day in jail, under any circumstance. Most people are concerned about money and all people are concerned with avoiding even one extra day in jail. So what if you were to be advised that a court may reasonably lower your bail from $100,000.00 to $10,000.00 at the first court hearing? Would you spend the money now or wait in jail a couple days for the chance to save quite a bit of your money? Once you post bail with a bail bondsman, for example, your non-refundable bail premium is gone. So do not hesitate to contact us for guidance on whether and when you should post bail.
Release on Own Recognizance
A person sitting in jail should be informed that the bail amount is subject to adjustment at the first court appearance, at a bail review hearing, and at any time the defense can establish a “change in circumstances.” In fact, at some point in the court process, a person may be released without the need to post any bail.
A court may release an individual on his or her promise to make all court appearances. This release is called “release on own recognizance.” The court may order special conditions to this type of release, depending on the type of case, such as attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings, staying away from a particular person, agreeing to searches by law enforcement, etc. The court could allow for satellite monitoring (G.P.S.) or “house arrest.” There are many alternative types of release without having to post bail. We are experts at identifying and presenting these alternatives to the court. Call us for legal advice.