Legal Dictionary

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Bail Reduction

When a person is arrested for a crime he or she is taken to jail. In order to be released from jail, the defendant may be required to post bail. In some situations, the defendant is released on his own recognizance (known as O.R.) without having to post bail, and given a future date to appear in court. If that does not occur, then the defendant must post bail to be released from custody.

Bail is the means used to secure a person's release from jail. Bail is generally set according to a county-wide bail schedule. Bail can be posted with a bail bond, cash, or real property as collateral for an arrestee's future court appearances.

On some occasions, the bail set may be too high or unreasonable. An experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can petition the court for a bail reduction. This is done at the first court hearing, referred to as the arraignment. In setting the amount of bail in California the judge takes into account the following factors:

  • Public safety
  • The seriousness of the criminal offense
  • The defendant's criminal history
  • The probability of the defendant making all the required court appearances.

A skilled criminal defense attorney will use these same factors to reduce bail, plus use any additional favorable information. This information may also include other factors: the defendant's gainful employment; no prior failures to appear in court (FTA); the defendant's homeownership in the community and stable life history. If these factors are shown, the defendant is therefore not likely to be a flight risk, or a danger to public safety, the court may lower the bail.

If a judge is unwilling to reduce the bail at the arraignment then your attorney can request a separate bail hearing after the arraignment. Additional bail motions can be made at subsequent court appearances including at the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, at the second superior court arraignment (after the preliminary hearing) and during future pretrial hearings.