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California Bail in Criminal Cases

When a person is arrested on suspicion of committing a criminal offense, they are taken into custody. If there is a bail set, the person will be released from custody once it is paid. The bail amount differs from case to case and is determined by the government based on two factors. They will consider whether the person is a flight risk, and whether they are a harm to society. The person has the opportunity to contest the set bail amount by requesting a bail hearing where they may present arguments and evidence in favor of setting a bail or reducing it.

In determining the issue of the person being a flight risk, several factors will be taken into account. Simply put, the determination is whether or not a person is likely to appear at the next mandated court hearing, if they are let out of custody. The government will look into what contacts the person has in the area that would prevent them from leaving. These include, family, friends, community obligations, work and the duration of time they have been in the area.

For example, a person has been living in the area for over 20 years close to all of their family. They have no other family anywhere else and have been at their job for 7 years and hold a high position that took them several years of training and experience to acquire. Additionally, they have no previous failure to appear offenses on their record and are an active member in their church and local volunteer programs. This person is not very likely to drop all obligations and run from the area, skipping court. The Judge will most likely consider this person as being a very low flight risk. Compared to person B who lives alone, is unemployed and has no family or community obligations or involvement, who the judge will most likely deem to be a high flight risk.

To assess whether a person is a harm to society, the court will look at the person’s criminal background and the specific facts of the case. If the person has committed felonious activities in the past that led to severe injury to person or property, there will be a strong case for prosecution to argue that they are a harm to the community. Similarly, if the current crime being tried involves severe injury to person or property, there is an argument they could be danger to society.

The bail amount is always open to negotiation, if the person is still in custody during the first court appearance. A DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney can prepare powerful defenses and arguments to help get the bail reduced.