However, if you think about it, bail is exactly in line with one of the most fundamental principals of our criminal justice system: each person is innocent until they are proven guilty. This is why even after you are arrested for a crime, in many cases, you may have the legal right to be released from jail by posting bail.
The problem is that because of a quirk between the timing of bail and the potential time period in which a person might be charged with a crime, there was a possibility that some people would have to post bail more than once. However, on Jan. 1, 2017, a new law in California changed bail laws to reduce the chances that a person will have to post bail twice.
The Basics of Bail
Bail is meant to be a promise that you will show up in court for hearings and trial dates in exchange for your release. Typically, the law allows you to be set free from custody if you deposit a certain amount of money with the court. This does not mean you have to post the full amount out of your own bank account. You can work with a bail bondsman, who will post the full amount of bail in exchange for a non-refundable premium, which is generally 10 percent of the total bail amount.
There are two possible outcomes once bail is paid by a bail bondsman. If you fail to show up to court as required, the court can declare the bail to be forfeited, meaning the bail bond company (which works for an insurance company) will likely have to pay the county the entire bail amount. The threat of bail forfeiture means that the bail bond agent will want to ensure that you appear in court at all scheduled hearings.
The other outcome is that bail will be “exonerated” or returned to the bail bond agent. This happens when the case is terminated and you have mad all of your required court hearings. The bail may also be exonerated if the prosecution declines to formally charge you with a crime within a certain amount of time.
Why Would People Have to Pay For Bail Twice? (PC 1305)
Previously, California Penal Code Section 1305 required that if a defendant was not formally charged with a crime within 15 days of the arraignment, the bail would be exonerated. However, the prosecutor is not required to immediately charge you with a crime. In fact, many criminal cases are not filed by the prosecution for many months. You might not be charged yet because the prosecution is waiting for lab results to be returned in a drug case, or because the investigation needs to determine whether there is enough evidence to formally charge you with a crime.
In those cases, the courts used to continue the case and retain control over the bond. However, in a case called People v. Indiana Lumbermen’s Insurance, the California Court of Appeals determined that the law had a strict 15-day deadline, and the courts did not have the power to simply hold over the bail. This could mean that if you were charged after your bail had been exonerated, you could be required to pay a second non-refundable premium to a bail bond agent in order to be free from custody.
The California legislature recently amended Penal Code Section 1305 to allow for a 90-day extension of the court’s authority over the bond if the case is properly continued or if either the defendant or prosecution request the extension. This should eliminate the chance that you would have to pay for bail more than once, because most cases are charged or dismissed within 90 days of the date someone is arrested for a crime.
Contact the Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you are facing criminal charges, the bail and pre-trial process can be a confusing time. You will be under stress from having been arrested and from waiting to find out if a criminal charge will be filed against you.
The most important thing you can do to protect your legal rights is retain an experienced criminal defense law firm to represent you when you are advised you are under investigation for a crime. By doing so, you will know what to do and, more importantly, what not to do as the process proceeds. In many cases, hiring a criminal defense law firm like Wallin & Klarich can be a major contributor when no criminal charges are filed against you.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance, and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Contact our offices today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.