In some cases, a criminal allegation is so serious that the defendant is not entitled to be released on bail. However, most defendants in California will have the option of posting bail in order to be released from custody. The bad news is that bail can be extremely costly, to the point where it is simply not affordable for many people. The good news is that it may be possible to have your family member’s bail lowered to a more reasonable amount. A Ventura criminal defense lawyer of The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth explain some of the options for reducing bail in Ventura County.
How is Bail Set for Defendants in Ventura County, California?
Bail is the amount of money that must be paid in order for a detainee to be released from the jail or detention facility where he or she is being held. There are three such facilities in Ventura County:
- East County Jail
- Todd Road Jail
- Ventura Pre-Trial Detention Facility
Bail is set early in the process, typically at a hearing known as the arraignment or first appearance. When setting bail, the judge refers to an annually updated guideline known as a bail schedule, which varies from state to state and even county to county. In addition to setting bail figures for various crimes, the bail schedule also provides some general rules for the determination of bail. For example, if a defendant has been charged with more than one offense, the 2016 Ventura County Bail Schedule generally requires, with some exceptions, bail to be set at the highest amount for the most serious offense.
What Are My Options if a Family Member’s Bail Amount is Too Expensive?
Bail in Ventura County can be rather expensive, especially if the alleged offense is a felony. To provide you with a few examples, the 2016 Ventura County Bail Schedule sets the following bail amounts for various felony offenses:
- Burglary (Cal. Penal Code § 459) – $10,000 to $50,000
- Carjacking (Cal. Penal Code § 215) – $100,000
- Manslaughter (Cal. Penal Code § 192) – $50,000 to $100,000
- Rape (Cal. Penal Code § 261) – $100,000
- Robbery (Cal. Penal Code § 211) – $50,000 to $100,000
- Sexual Battery (Cal. Penal Code § 243.4) – $20,000
Though not quite as expensive, misdemeanor bail amounts can also be extremely costly, ranging from $5,000 to $10,000.
Try not to panic if your loved one’s bail amount is too high, because the initial amount isn’t necessarily set in stone. An experienced Ventura County bail reduction attorney may be able to have the initial amount brought down to an affordable number.
A bail reduction hearing can be requested during the defendant’s arraignment. The purpose of the bail reduction hearing is exactly what it sounds like: asking the judge to lower the defendant’s bail amount.
The judge may or may not decide to grant this request, depending on factors like the defendant’s likelihood of fleeing justice (whether or not he or she is a “flight risk”), the defendant’s connections to the local community (such as employers), and the defendant’s criminal history (or lack thereof). A skilled Ventura criminal defense attorney will work to construct a compelling case based on the available facts, with the goal of persuading the judge to agree to a bail reduction.
Though bail reduction hearings can be effective, they aren’t the only way to spend less money on bail. Depending on the circumstances, a few other options may be open.
- People who have been charged with lesser offenses may be eligible for something called “release on recognizance” (O.R. Release). Put simply, release on recognizance is free bail that depends not on financial payment, but the defendant’s word that he or she will appear at future court hearings as directed.
- If bail costs too much, you might consider turning to a bail bondsman. Bail bonds reduce your upfront costs, but they can also saddle you with financial liability if the defendant fails to appear in court.
Whatever the charges may pertain to, you should discuss your situation with an attorney if you’re concerned about a bail amount being too high. There are several options that may be available to you, and your attorney can help you determine which course of action is most efficient and appropriate based on the circumstances.
Contact Our Ventura Criminal Defense Lawyers About a Bail Reduction Hearing
If you’re worried about not being able to post bail, don’t give up hope. There may still be ways to get your loved one out of jail. The Oxnard defense lawyers at The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC have more than 22 years of experience representing defendants charged with a wide range of felonies and misdemeanors. Let us put our experience to use for you by looking for ways to obtain a bail reduction.
Bamieh & De Smeth serves all of Ventura County, including Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Camarillo, Moorpark, Santa Paula, Port Hueneme, Fillmore, and Ojai. To learn more about how we may be able to help in a free and confidential legal consultation, call our law offices at (805) 585-5056 as soon as possible.