It is possible to be released after an arrest in California without having to spend time waiting in jail until your official court date. Under the law, if you are booked by the authorities for a crime, you would have to sit in jail until your court date. Given that it could take months from the time you were arrested to get your day in court, you might be looking at a long time behind bars before you are even given the opportunity to argue your innocence. Bail is a way that defendants can avoid having to spend this time in jail waiting for their trial and instead, be released with the promise that they will return when their court date arrives.
If you have the funds to pay for your bail, you will be “granted bail.” This means that the court will take your money and you will be allowed to leave. A defendant’s ability to get a bail set in California largely relies on a judge’s discretion. A judge can decide if a defendant deserves bail and how high the amount should be. While a judge will refer to the California bail schedule to start their calculations, they will then assess a defendant’s situation to raise or lower the amount. Some details that the judge will examine are:
- The type of crime committed
- The seriousness of the crime
- The defendant’s ability to post bail
- The defendant’s criminal background
How Can You Get Your Bail Reduced in California
Even though a judge will likely assess your ability to pay bail, that does not necessarily mean that the amount they assign to you will be low or affordable based on your means. Regardless, it may simply be an impossibility to pay almost any bail amount if your current financial situation is not in good shape. When you are given bail and it is inconceivable that you will be able to pay, you can apply for a reduction.
When a request for a reduction in bail is made, the courts are required by law to look at specific factors to determine if a new bail amount is warranted. These include:
- How serious the crime was and if the defendant is believed to pose a threat to the public.
- The criminal history of the defendant.
- If it is believed that the defendant will show up for their court date.
- The amount of harm that was inflicted on the victim.
- If there was a firearm or deadly weapon used in the crime.
- The presence of a controlled substance in relation to the crime.