How Does Bail Work?

By otmseo on August 24, 2020

Put simply, bail is the security for your appearance at court through trial.

Upon your being booked the police set bail using a bail schedule.  Here for misdemeanors or Here for felonies.  The amount is based solely on what you were charged with and is cumulative.  That is, if you were charged with three offenses, the police would add the bail schedule amounts for all three.  Likewise, if charges are later added or dismissed the amount of bail could change.

You can call the bail commissioner to have him review the amount of bail set before arraignment.

How Can You Pay Bail.

Bail can be paid (1) in cash; (2) with a bail bond or (3) with a property bond.  A bail bond is a promise to pay if the defendant doesn’t appear obtained through a bail bond agency. They take a security (eg: a lien on your house), plus a fee (7-10% depending on the agent and circumstances) and promise the court if you do not appear they will pay the full amount of the bond.  A property bond is where you use the equity in your property by allowing the county to have a lien on it as security for the defendant’s appearance. This can take a week or so to arrange, but it doesn’t require a huge outlay of cash. Also, the lien is lifted at the conclusion of the case. You do not lose the money like that posted with a bail bond company.

Can You Modify Bail?

At your arraignment your lawyer can request OR (own recognizance) release and a hearing will be scheduled in 5 days when probation prepares a report with a recommendation for OR release or not.

At the arraignment your lawyer can also ask for bail reduction. Bail has to be set in an amount that will assure the presence of each individual.  The bail set at arrest based on the schedule that does not take the individual defendant into account.  Since excessive bail is equal to no bail, the court has to reduce bail to an amount that will ensure the defendant’s presence, which implies that it’s an amount the defendant can come up with.  Any amount higher than that amount is equivalent to setting no bail and requires the State to show that the defendant is a danger to the community.

In Re Humphrey

The case of In Re Humphrey reaffirms the need for the courts to set bail in an amount affordable by the defendant. The Humphrey court held that bail must be set at an amount to insure the defendant’s presence at court and no more. The judge must inquire into that amount. Courts must set bail using an individualized criteria. It cannot be set according to a bail schedule. The court must also inquire into non-financial methods to insure the defendant’s presence.

I am experienced in all areas of obtaining bail for our clients. If your loved one has been arrested and is stuck in jail, give me a call at 213-479-5322 to help them get released.

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