California courts decide cases on established legal authority.
There are two types of authority. Those are primary authority and secondary authority. In the context of bail bond hearings, judges are guided by primary authority, but they’re free to use secondary authority if it operates to clarify primary authority. They’re also free to ignore secondary authority.
The primary authority for all state law in California is derived from the Constitution of the State of California. State statutes, regulations, local ordinances and binding legal precedents are all primary authority that flow from it. Article 1 Section 12 of the California Constitution permits just about anybody charged with a crime to be released from custody, so long as sufficient bail is posted. Exceptions exist if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the accused:
- Would bring great bodily harm to others if released
- Threatened bodily harm to others if released
Bail can be posted by a bail bond agency on behalf of the person in custody to secure his or her presence at future court dates. It might also be posted in the form of cash by the accused or another individual on his or her behalf.
Article 1 Section 12 forbids excessive bail, and it sets out various factors that a judge must consider in setting a bail. Those include:
- The seriousness of the offense charged
- Any previous criminal record of the accused
- The probability of the defendant appearing later court proceedings in the matter
The rights given by Article I section 12 have been set forth in great detail in Chapter 17 of the California Code of Criminal Procedure.
Release on recognizance
On the sound discretion of the court, a person might also be released on his or her own recognizance. Two things come to issue though. First, he or she might be required to stay in jail while awaiting a bail bond hearing. Next, rather than a recognizance bail, a judge might require a cash bail anyway. The wiser choice is to obtain affordable and prompt release from custody as soon as possible through a bail bond agency.
Amount of bail bond
The amount of the bail bond is set in accordance with a bail bond schedule. Each county has its own schedule. The law doesn’t permit bail bond agents in California to charge a fee in excess of 10 percent of the bail bond amount. Most people can be released shortly after all bail bond agency requirements have been met. The bail bond fee is not refundable.
Increase of bail
Even if somebody doesn’t violate the terms of their bail, a prosecutor can ask a judge to increase it if something in the defendant’s past comes up that was previously unknown. If somebody does violate the terms of their probation, and the prosecution finds out about it, he or she can expect to be taken into custody again as it’s likely that his or her bail bond will be increased.
Being arrested and taken into custody is a difficult process to go through, especially if an arrestee has a job and a family to support. Our objective is to make release from custody as easy as possible for everybody. That usually requires more than one person from our office working on a case, but that teamwork is part of our commitment to our clients. Nearly everybody who is arrested in California has a primary constitutional and statutory right to bail. Exercise that right before you run the risk of going before a judge. You never know what a judge is going to do.