Bail and Own Recognizance Release
What is Bail?
If an individual is charged with a crime, a judge may set bail for the individual. Bail is an amount of money that a criminal defendant must pay the court to be free from jail custody while their case is pending. Bail acts as a kind of security to ensure the criminal defendant appears for trial and related hearings.
If the defendant or a third-party pays the bail, then the court will release the defendant under several conditions and order them to appear at any future court dates. If the individual cannot cover the bail amount on their own, they seek help from a friend, family member, or a bail bondsman. A bail bondsman will post bail for you if you give them a percentage of the ordered bail, no more than 10%. The bail bondsman’s fee is typically not refundable. They are taking the risk to pay bail for your freedom while your case is pending.
How Bail is Determined
When someone is charged with a criminal offense, a judge or magistrate sets bail at the first hearing for their case. A judge will determine the exact amount of the bail after they have heard the prosecutor and defense attorney’s arguments for and against bail. New laws (Senate Bill 10) relating to eliminating cash bail require judges to evaluate the defendant to see whether they will follow the court’s conditions for release and promise to return for all future court dates. The initial bail amount is not final, but it will likely require a motion for a judge to change it.
How to Post Bail
If you have been charged with a crime in the state of California and are required to post bail to be released from jail, there are three ways that you can do this:
- Cash Bail – This is the simplest and most straightforward option. You simply will post the entire amount of bail with cash or a cashier’s check if you have the money available.
- Bail Bond – This is the most common way to post bail. Most people don’t have enough cash to post full cash bail, so enlisting a bondsman to post bail is a good option.
- Property Bond – This involves using property as a guarantee instead of cash or a check. The value of your equity in the property has to be at least double the amount of bail for the property to be eligible as a bond payment.
If an individual does not follow the court’s terms and conditions after release, they are subject to rearrest and loss of their bond entirely.
How to Get Your Bail Reduced
If you are looking to get your bond reduced, you may request a bond reduction through a motion to the court. The court will always use the bail schedule as the starting point in determining an appropriate bail amount. If you can convince the judge that an alternative to cash bail can reasonably ensure your appearance or that you are deserving of a lower bail, then you may be able to avoid an excessive bail amount. It is highly recommended that you get the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you in any bail reduction hearings.
What is a “1275 Hold?”
In California, a “1275 Hold” (based on California Penal Code Section 1275) is a hold a prosecutor can place on someone, which will prevent them from being released from custody even if they post bail. This hold is placed when a prosecutor contends that the money used for bail is from the proceeds of criminal activity. The hold can only be lifted once a court is satisfied that the bail money came from a legitimate source and not from criminal activity. If the court denies the request to remove the hold, then the individual will stay in custody until the completion of his or her case.
What is an Own Recognizance Release?
A release on own recognizance, also known as an “O.R. release,” is where the court does not set a cash bail amount and allows an individual charged with a crime to stay out of custody. The court will allow this simply with the individual’s promise to return to court and follow the court’s orders. Individuals who are granted O.R. release usually have no prior criminal record and are typically charged with lesser crimes, such as misdemeanors or drunk driving (DUI).
What If I Don’t Show Up for Court?
If you don’t show up for court, then the judge will issue a bench warrant and revoke your bail.
In California, failing to appear for court is also a separate crime in itself. If you are charged with a misdemeanor offense, and you don’t show up for court, then you can be charged with a separate misdemeanor for failing to appear. This violation can result in up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
If you are charged with a felony offense, and you don’t show up for court, then you can be charged with a separate felony offense. This violation can result in up to 3 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Failing to appear in court is among the worst things that you can do during your criminal case. Make sure that you appear for any and all of your court dates.
Get Bail Help from an Experienced Lawyer
You should speak to a criminal defense attorney to help you with bail. We offer free consultations so you can have your case reviewed by a seasoned professional.