14 Feb 2012

Should I post bail, or should I try to get out on my own recognizance?

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When you are arrested on a California state charge, bail is initially set according to a schedule in each County, based upon the charges for which you are arrested. You are supposed to be brought before a judge within 72 hours, or longer if that time falls over a weekend. Most defendants with an attorney can convince the judge to reduce the bail, or be released on own recognizance (“O.R.”) at the first court appearance. Factors for bail/O.R. before a judge are the defendant’s flight risk, danger to the community and criminal history.

Whether you should bail out is a financial and personal decision. If you must get out of jail right away, post bail. If you can stay in jail for a few days, you may save yourself several thousand dollars.  Often, after a client goes to jail, they want out immediately and post bail.

Federal bail is called “detention” and is controlled by the Bail Reform Act. It is a much more complicated analysis requiring advice from an attorney with experience in handling federal criminal cases. The factors that a judge considers for determining if a defendant will be detained also include flight risk and danger to the community, and certain presumptions apply depending on the nature of the charges. Federal bail bonds are not typically posted. Defendants either post real property (with equity), or have unsecured signature bonds signed by the defendant and often other people who also commit to assure the defendant will appear in court.

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