Arrests are conducted randomly, with no prior warning. They come as a surprise for many and even for habitual offenders. Thus, you will likely face arrest as you carry on with your day-to-day life. The police could find you at work, at home, in the streets, at school, or even in the church. When the police obtain an arrest warrant for you, the order requires them to arrest you whenever they see you, regardless of the day or time. Therefore, an arrest will likely interfere with your life. For instance, if arrested in the streets, workplace, or school, the police officers will not allow you time to say goodbye to your loved ones. You will only be allowed a phone call after the booking.
Arrests are hard for all people, including employees, employers, and family men/women. You are not able to do much while behind bars. An employee could lose their job. A student might be discontinued from the school system. Your children and other dependents will suffer in your absence.
There is a need to consider all that and seek ways to avoid the uncertainties that come with sudden arrests. That is why California laws allow trial courts and judges to allow suspects to await trial out of incarceration. That way, the suspect can return to their life. It minimizes the issues likely to be experienced if the person remains incarcerated for a more extended period.
However, California trial courts must find a way to ensure that the defendant will honor all court-ordered appearances. The easiest way out is to post bail to guarantee their court appearances. Bail could be in the form of money, property, or bail bond. Money and property are mainly used as bait to ensure that the defendant appears for trial until the end of their case. If not, the court will keep the money, resulting in a significant loss for the suspect. A substantial amount of money is used as bail for suspects not to skip bail.
Bail is crucial in so many ways. For instance, it keeps trial courts in California from violating a defendant’s rights to be innocent until proven guilty. Incarceration is only allowed after one is found guilty of the charges they face, and the offense’s penalty provides for it. Keeping a suspect behind bars before the resolution of their case is violating their rights. However, there are exceptions for this, for instance, if the defendant is considered a safety risk to the public.
Bail enables the California justice system to minimize the costs of keeping suspected offenders. It costs the taxpayer a lot of money to keep a suspect in custody, even for a day. The costs would be significantly higher if all suspects remained jailed after arrest and even after trial.
Bail also ensures a fair trial for all. If a suspect remains in custody, they will have limited resources to prepare well for the trial. Allowing a suspect time to plan for trial ensures that they have the right tools, sufficient evidence, and legal help for a fair trial.
As previously mentioned, arrests are marred with a lot of uncertainties. It is the reason why many suspects and their families worry after an arrest. However, the California legal system is not complicated. The police, judges, and everyone involved, follow a particular legal process. Knowing that process would minimize the worry and help you plan.
After arrest, you are taken through booking, whereby the officer records your personal details and details of your case. The officer will require your official name, date of birth, state and area of residence, and employment details. The officer will also take your fingerprints to help determine your criminal record from the police database. Finally, the officer will record facts of the underlying case, including the offense for which you were arrested.
You will likely be detained after your booking. Within 48 hours of your arrest, the officer will arraign you before a magistrate for your bail hearing. The magistrate will consider the circumstances of your charges and your criminal record during the hearing to decide whether or not you are suitable for bail. It means that the judge may or may not grant you bail. Fortunately for you, most defendants qualify for bail in California unless under specific conditions. For example, if you face charges for a severe or violence-related felony, your community might be safer and better off if you remained in jail.
If you are suitable for bail, the judge will set the amount. The judge’s decision is based on several factors, including the bail schedule the courts within Whittier use, your criminal history, and the seriousness of the offense. The bail schedule sets the pace for the judge’s decision. He/she can increase or lower the amount, depending on those other factors. For instance, bail for a first-offender will likely be lower or equal to the amount available on the bail schedule. Your bail could be higher and unaffordable if your charges involve a more severe crime.
You can petition the judge to reduce your bail to a much more affordable amount. However, that could work in specific circumstances. For example, if you have legal representation, your attorney might compel the judge to lower the amount and assure the court of your willingness to make all court-ordered appearances. The judge could also reduce your bail if you have strong ties within your community. Strong ties show that you’ll stay within the trial court’s jurisdiction throughout the bail period.