How To Post Bail In California
Adrianna Ngo Student, UC Berkeley
But in reality, and especially in California, it can be an expensive and long process. Talking to a lawyer as soon as possible after you are arrested can help the bail process go more smoothly. And hopefully, a lawyer can get you a plea deal to make sure you don't end up going behind bars again.
What is bail?
The American Bar Association defines bail as “the amount of money defendants must post to be released from custody until their trial.”
The purpose of bail is to ensure that defendants will show up to court and not disappear.
In a way, posting bail is an incentive for defendants to show up for trial because at the end, bail is returned to the defendant.
The amount of bail that is set for each defendant is different and determined by a variety of factors. For example, judges take into consideration the type of crime that was committed, the risk of the defendant fleeing, and the safety of the community itself.
Overall, there is no set bail and it’s mainly based on the defendant and the crime committed.
What about bail in California?
As of right now, the bail system in California is a bit different than it is in the rest of the country.
In 2018, the California Court of Appeals declared that the state’s cash bail system was unconstitutional. In hopes of establishing a more just criminal system, California abolished its bail system for defendants awaiting trial.
California is actually the first state in the nation to pass a bill that abolishes the cash bail system.
Although this bill passed in legislature, it did not go into effect because the referendum was filed.
In order to put this bill into effect, state residents must vote to pass Prop 25 this upcoming November.
If Prop 25 passes, local courts would stop its cash bail system and decide which defendants are kept in custody or released based on risk assessments and unique algorithms.
So how do I get released from jail in California?
As of right now, California ist still sticking to its cash bail system.
This means that if you are contained for a crime, you will most likely have to post bail in order to be released prior to trial.
Sometimes judges release defendants without bail. However, they must agree that they will appear for all hearings and trials. This usually occurs if the defendant has a steady life in their community and doesn't seem likely to flee.
If you have to post bail but you do not have the money to do so, do not worry because there are other actions you can take.
For example, the American Bar Association advises to make arrangements for your release through a bail bondsperson if you cannot pay the fee.
A bail bondsperson will post your bail in exchange for a non-refundable premium. For California specifically, this premium is capped at 10 percent.
Bail can be very expensive, so this method of posting bail occurs quite frequently.
However, things will change if Prop 25 passes in November.
Risk assessments will replace the cash bail system. Instead of posting a sum of money to ensure your appearance in court, the court will determine whether you should be released before trial.
This is done through a series of risk assessments. These assessments are categorized as low risk, medium risk, and high risk.
If you are categorized as low risk then your chances of getting released from jail are high because you do not pose a large threat to public safety and seem likely to show up to court.
If you are categorized as medium risk than your chances of getting released or contained in jail are 50/50 and depends more on a case to case basis.
If you are categorized as a high risk then your chances of getting released from jail are low. However, you may get the chance to argue why you should be released.
One of our lawyers can help you make this argument. Our fees start at $249. That's far less than what you would likely have to post for bail.
Reach out to us if you or a loved one want to learn more.
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