Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Los Angeles Bail and the Criminal Defense System

Posted on: August 20, 2009 at 5:29 a.m.

When a Los Angeleles criminal defense attorney sitsdown with someone for their first meeting, very often that person is behind bars or about to be booked. One question, or set of questions, that arises time after time has to do with Los Angeles bail. People might understand, from television, that if you are arrested, there is a way to get out of jail. Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys often have to educate their clients on such things as bail and how it works, because the average person gets their legal education from "Law & Order" which usually does not tell the whole story.

A huge advantage to getting out of jail is the ability to more effectively assist your Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, ensuring a more effective criminal defense. Also, if you are a non-citizen, being in jail could jeopardize your immigration status, so getting out of jail ASAP is a priority.

There are two ways to be released from jail: the bail option and something called "own recognizance." Bail works just like an insurance policy, to pay the amount set in bail means that the defendant guarantees that he or she will appear in court on the specified date after being released. The bail can either be paid "out of pocket" or through a bail bond. After successfully appearing at the court, the bail is returned to you by check, which often can take between eight and ten weeks to arrive. However, if you do not have the full amount of the bail, you can seek out a bail bond. Companies that issue such bail bonds usually charge about ten percent of the posted bail. So, if your bail is set at $50,000, then the company will charge you $5,000 to issue the bond.

Determining Bail

There are four major factors used in determining what amount bail is set at:

  1. The seriousness of the alleged crime. A more serious offense will call for higher bail amounts. Violent crimes, gang activity, grand larceny and other major felonies will have a higher bail amount that a misdemeanor.

  2. The suspect's criminal record is reviewed. If a suspect has a minor criminal record, or no criminal record whatsoever, then the bail amount will probably be lower.

  3. Will the suspect pose a risk to the community if released. Bail will be set very high, or the defendant could be denied bail in Los Angeles, if he or she is thought to pose a risk to others. Violent crime, domestic abuse, sex crimes and related criminal offenses in Los Angeles could cause bail to be set at a rate that the defendant cannot likely afford.

  4. Suspect's ties to family, community and employment are assessed. If the suspect is the main bread winner in his or her family, if they have strong community ties or other such factors, then bail will likely be lowered.

A Los Angeles judge will analyze all of these factors to determine at what amount to set the bail. This is also an early stage of negotiation and argument for the prosecution and defense. Having a skilled Los Angeles criminal defense attorney arguing on your behalf will help you get a more favorable bail amount. A skilled Los Angeles criminal defense attorney will present key facts, evidence and relationships to the judge. Also, many criminal defense attorneys have relationships with bail bondsmen and bail bond companies, and could assist you in getting your bail bond fee lowered from 10% to potentially 8%. This may not seem like much, but if you have committed a major felony and bail is set at $100,000, a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney could save you $2,000 on your bail bond.

If you or someone you love has been charged with a crime in Los Angeles, contact the Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner& Gorin today at 877-781-1570.

Tagged as: bail and release

Bail: Details on How It Works

Posted on: January 12, 2009 at 12:30 p.m.

When a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney prepares for a trial, he or she must consider how bail will play out for their client.

Traditionally in Los Angeles, bail is some form of property deposited or pledged to a court in order to persuade it to release a suspect from jail, on the understanding that the suspect will return for trial or forfeit the bail (and be guilty of the crime of failure to appear). In most cases bail money will be returned at the end of the trial, if all court appearances are made, no matter whether the person is found guilty or not guilty of the crime accused.

In Los Angeles, criminal defense attorneys will attempt to get the lowest bail possible for their clients, or have no bail at all. Los Angeles courts will try to set a bail that will assure the accused wither will spend time in prison or will be sure not to flee the area before trial. In cases that involve extreme violence or extremely wealthy individuals, bail may be extraordinarily high. For example, a lawyer for a Swedish hip-hop artist accused of murdering a pedestrian in a sensational act of road rage invoked the movie "Crash" on Friday in asking for a reduction in the performer's $1-million bail. The fatal encounter happened in a Hollywood crosswalk.

This particular case is an example of both a high-profile defendant and a particularly violent episode (which usually means a high bail amount). Police say Jassy, 34, punched, kicked and then ran over John Osnes, a 55-year-old jazz pianist, during the Nov. 24 incident. Witnesses told police that Osnes, who did not own a car and was a stickler for pedestrian rights, had struck with his hands the front of Jassy's SUV after it edged into the crosswalk. In the filing, the criminal defense lawyer wrote that further investigation and forensic tests were required to determine the facts, but his summary of the alleged crime suggested Jassy may contend that Osnes played a more aggressive role than authorities have said. The lawyer labeled the incident a "fight" and said Osnes was "angry that his way was partially blocked" and had "pounded his fists" on Jassy's vehicle.

At Arraignment, a client may be released O.R., which means on his or her recognizance without having to post bail. In the event a bail amount is set by the court, we counsel our clients and his or her family on how to post bail, to get the loved one released from custody as quickly as possible. Bail is financial assurance that a Defendant will return to court after being released from custody.

Tagged as: bail and release

Bail and Murder

Posted on: September 10, 2008 at 9:35 a.m.

The primary suspect in a murder this July which shocked the city of Los Angeles is being held without bail in a separate matter. James Fayed of Moorpark is charged with operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business, but a Los Angeles federal judge refused to review his no-bail status in the case, saying he was concerned that Fayed eventually might be charged with his wife's murder. A federal judge has refused to consider bail for the estranged husband of a woman who was stabbed to death in a parking garage in upscale Century City.

Prosecutors say Fayed's credit card was used to rent an apparent getaway a car seen after the slaying of his wife, Pamela, in July. They call Fayed the "primary suspect."

Fayed's attorney says the card belonged to Fayed's business and others had access to it. Werksman also says it's unfair to keep Fayed locked up on the chance of a murder charge.

It can often be difficult for a Los Angeles criminal attorney to obtain bail for his/her client in a murder trial. If the crime is particularly gruesome or high profile, or if the defendant has the ability to flee the state/country easily, then bail will be that much more difficult to procure.

For high-profile cases, such as the murder trial of Phil Spector, defendants will have bail set at an extremely high dollar amount. In the case of Spector, it was set at $1 million.

For many states the regulations on the bail industry are found in multiple state codes. In the case of California, the regulatory body is the Insurance Department, but the bail industry is also subject to California's Penal Code. There are two ways to post bail. First, "cash" bail may be posted with the custodial agency to cover the entire amount of the bail. At the end of the case, if bail is exonerated, the defendant will receive a check for the entire amount posted (takes about 8-10 weeks). Second, a "bond" through a bail company may be posted. A defendant pays about 10% of the entire amount to a bail company, which puts up the entire bail amount through a bond. If bail is exonerated, the 10% is not returned to the defendant because this is the fee he paid to the bail company to post bail on his behalf (like an insurance premium). Although the standard bail fee is 10%, there are certain circumstances where clients can qualify for an 8% premium. The bond company requires that the attorney has already been retained before qualifying the individual for a reduction.

Tagged as: bail and release, jury trial defense

California Propositions (NOV. 2008): Dangerous New Bail Law Proposed

Posted on: August 20, 2008 at 8:08 a.m.

Every November California practices its own brand of democracy by putting for propositions, many of which target criminal activity of some sort. This year is no different, and there is a highly controversial Prop. being proposed in regards to bail*.

Proposition 6, the "Criminal Penalties and Laws. Public Safety Funding. Statute" would require new state spending on various programs to combat crime and gangs, and to operate prison and parole systems. It would also eliminates bail for illegal immigrants charged with violent or gang-related felonies.

Targeting illegal immigrants is nothing new for those who attempt to get propositions onto the ballet, and non-citizens who are violent offenders are also easy targets. However, denying bail to these individuals may be denying them the rights given by the federal and state Constitutions. In fact, it seems a bit counterproductive, as non-citizens have the right to counsel from their home nation on certain matters. Attempting to keep them locked up not only keeps these non-citizens from returning to their home nations, but my infringe on their right to counsel (depending upon how the courts interpret the rule). There was a case in Texas recently where a man who was a Mexican citizen was put to death and not given the chance to speak with counsel from Mexico.

It will be interesting to see how this proposition is treated, and whether or not it passes.

*The taking of bail consists in the acceptance, by a competent court or magistrate, of the undertaking of sufficient bail for the appearance of the defendant, according to the terms of the undertaking, or that the bail will pay to the people of this state a specified sum.

Tagged as: bail and release, immigration consequences

What happens on the first day of court - at the arraignment? Will I have to go into custody?

Posted on: May 28, 2007 at 1:46 a.m.

Arraignment is the initial court proceeding where a defendant is advised of his charges, and usually enters a Not Guilty plea. If a defendant is out on bail, he stays out of custody unless the prosecutor demonstrates to the court that the defendant is a flight risk, or a danger to the community, above and beyond what the posted bail would prevent against. In other words, the prosecutor has to explain to the judge why the defendant needs to be rearrested when he has already voluntarily shown up to court, after posting bail. The prosecutor clearly has the burden here, and bail gets increased in cases where Defendant is on probation, there are new charges filed, or the source of bail (the monies used) are connected to illegal conduct.

Tagged as: bail and release, faq

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