Whether it is your tenth arrest or your first, being arrested is never fun. Often, it is downright terrifying. For most people, the first concern after being arrested is getting out of jail. In almost all cases, bail will be set, providing you with the opportunity to be released from jail while your case is pending. While every situation is unique, some general information about how bail and bail bonds work in California may be helpful if you find yourself behind bars.
The concept behind the bail bond system is simple. In the United States, a defendant has numerous rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The 8th Amendment to the Constitution provides that “excessive bail shall not be required.” This is where your right to bail originates. With few exceptions, a bail amount will be set shortly after you arrive at the jail following an arrest. Charges for first or second degree murder are an exception to that general rule; however, you may even be able to get bail set on a murder charge but only after a hearing in front of a judge. Other situations where bail may not be immediately available include an arrest for failure to appear and a probation violation arrest. In these cases, you may also ultimately have a bail amount set after a hearing.
For all other charges, bail is initially set accordingly to a bail schedule established by the courts. The amount of your bail is determined primarily by the charges you are facing. Your initial bail amount can change dramatically for one of two reasons:
- The initial charges are increased or decreased
- Your attorney requests a bail hearing and is able to convince the judge to lower your bail
If the initial bail amount is too high for your family or friends to pay, your best bet is to retain the services of an experienced California criminal defense attorney who will request a bond review hearing. At the hearing, your attorney will be allowed to present evidence to the court that is intended to make you look like a low risk defendant who warrants a reduced bail amount. The court will focus on the following factors when setting bail:
- The severity of the charges
- The risk to the public if you are released
- The likelihood that you will return to court for all court appearances, or the risk of flight
If you have a loved one who has been arrested and whose bail is too high for you to pay, consult with an experienced California criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. To find out if the bail amount can be lowered, contact criminal defense attorney Domenic J. Lombardo by calling (619) 232-5122 for a free and confidential consultation.