How an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Can Save You Thousands of Dollars
After a person is arrested and taken into custody, at the first appearance before a judge they have a right to a “bail hearing” where the amount of bail is set. When a defendant makes “bail” this means they are giving a specified amount of money to the court in exchange for being let out of jail with a promise that they will return to court at their next scheduled appearance. If the defendant returns to court as scheduled, the bail is exonerated and the full amount of money is returned. However, if the defendant does not return as promised, the bail is forfeited and the money is kept by the court.
Most people don’t have large amounts of cash lying around, so the most common way for a person to make bail is through a bail bondsman. Generally, a bondsman will charge 10% and require some sort of collateral to post bail on behalf of the defendant. For example, if the bail is $10,000 (the common amount for a second DUI charge), the defendant must give the bondsman $1,000 plus some form of collateral, such as the pink slip to their vehicle. If the defendant does not skip out on bail and returns to court as scheduled, the defendant will receive the collateral back and the bondsman will receive the $10,000 back from the court and keep the 10% fee.
A defendant has a right to a “reasonable” bail. Usually, the judge initially sets bail according to a pre-determined county-wide bail schedule. For example, in Orange County, the charge of rape carries a $100,000 bail, grand theft is $20,000 or the amount stolen, and a first time DUI is $2,500.
However, a judge may deviate from the bail schedule based on many factors relating to the facts surrounding the crime charged and the particular defendant. For example, a defendant charged with a first time DUI who has no criminal history and extensive ties to the community such as a family, job, and property ownership, will likely be able to have his bailed reduced to zero. When bail is reduced to zero, the judge is letting the person off “on his own recognizance” or “O.R.”
Continue reading "Bail Explained" »