It can be easy to assume that bail is a given, granted to all but the most serious of crime committers. But it’s also easy to be worried that bail will not be granted. For defendants and their families, being taken into jail is a stressful and uncertain time.
It’s true that the ability to post bail is a fundamental right and central to the US justice system, but there are circumstances where a judge may deem it necessary to keep a defendant in custody.
It’s not just a case of whether or not an individual is a risk to the community that determines if bail is granted or not. Bail is given, or not, for several reasons:
Protection of the public and the victim are the primary considerations:
- Safety of the victim’s family.
- Seriousness of the charges.
- The criminal record of the defendant
- The probability that the defendant will appear in subsequent proceedings in the case
- To maintain the presumption of innocence until proven guilty
- To ensure the defendant attends their court hearing(s)
- To protect the lives of the victim(s) by preventing direct contact
What Charges Can You Post Bail For?
A defendant who has not yet been convicted of a crime has a right to bail under the California Constitution, art I, sec. 12. This means that most criminal defendants will be entitled to bail, including those accused of:
The least serious types of offenses, common examples include speeding, running a red light, window tinting. Most infractions in California are vehicle and traffic related.
Infractions are punishable only by a maximum fine of $250, not jail time.
Common examples include a DUI, shoplifting and domestic violence that does not result in serious injury. In California, a misdemeanor falls into one of two basic categories: Standard and Gross.
Standard: Punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1000
Gross/aggravated: Punishable by to up 365 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1000 or more
Bail is an entitlement of defendants classed with a misdemeanor in California.
The most serious types of crimes; punishable by more than a year in jail or state prison. Examples include fraud, firing a gun with gross negligence, manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter, burglary, and rape.
California classifies felonies as either “serious”, “violent” or both.
Bail is still a constitutional right for most defendants accused of committing felonies, however exceptions include:
- Offenses with “acts of violence”
- Sexual assault
- Offense with threat of great bodily harm
When Bail Is Not a Right
The right to bail is excluded to those who have committed a violent felony in California, it is then at the discretion of the courts. Any defendant that has been given a death sentence cannot be granted bail.
Examples of violent felonies include:
- Murder or voluntary manslaughter
Bail After a Conviction
Defendants can still seek bail after a conviction so that they can be released before sentencing occurs. Bail is considered a right for most misdemeanor cases. However those convicted of a felony are no longer entitled to bail as a right, instead it is at the discretion of the court. Bail is not considered lightly after a conviction and the court will consider various factors when deciding whether to grant it or not.
Oliver Neely is a content writer for 3-D Bail Bonds in Connecticut. He produces articles which aim to simplify and demystify the often complex and intimidating US justice system.
This is a guest post by Oliver Neely. This post has been edited for syntax and grammar. The Law offices of Jay Leiderman is not responsible for the accuracy of the content herein or any opinions or ideas expressed herein. This post is for entertainment and literary value and is not intended as legal advice. This post does not establish an attorney-client relationship of any sort. If you have legal questions about ideas presented herein please contact a lawyer knowledgeable in this field of practice.