If you’re charged with a crime in California, you are often subject to pre-trial confinement in jail. To get out, you will either have to post bail or be released on your own recognizance, commonly referred to as O.R., depending on the judge’s decision.
Bail is a dollar amount you must post or guarantee to ensure that you return for your court date. O.R. lets you out of custody without posting any bail but often places restrictions on you to ensure you’ll be around to show up for your court date. Being accused of a capital offense and some serious felonies do not allow for bail or O.R.
If you’ve been charged with a crime in or around Oakland, California, contact me immediately at the Darryl A. Stallworth Law Office. I can help you make your case for bail or an O.R. release and begin working on a strong defense to fight for your best interests. I represent clients in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area and throughout Alameda County and Northern California.
As mentioned earlier, bail is a sum of money the court orders you to post to ensure you return for your trial date. The court retains the money until after your trial is over and then returns it within 60 or 90 days. If you don’t show up, the court will seize the bail amount unless you can prove you were unable to show up due to illness, disability, or being held in custody by another jurisdiction.
Though bail is set in a dollar amount, many people might not have enough cash on hand to pay it. If not, then they can see a bail bondsman to get a bond to post with the court. The bond agent will charge you a nonrefundable premium to secure the bond. California caps this premium at 10 percent, so if you need a $5,000 bond, it will cost you $500.
Sometimes the agency will also demand that you offer collateral in case you skip town. Collateral is something you own that the bondsman can sell if you skip your trial and they get stuck with paying off the full amount of bail. You may also be required to have a cosigner, who could be on the hook if you skip your trial.
If you own real property, you can also post bail by allowing the court to place a lien on your property. If you fail to show, they can then foreclose on your property to collect what’s due. Another point to remember about bail is that if you’re convicted and have a fine imposed on you, the court can withdraw funds from your bail to pay the fine.
The California Supreme Court in 2021 ruled that setting a bail amount that a person cannot afford is unconstitutional. A study by the UCLA School of Law and the Berkeley School of Law, however, found that the decision has failed to lead to any reduction in pretrial detention, though others argue that it’s too early to tell.
Each county has different rules regarding the setting of bail, and they generally have schedules indicating the amount for each different crime. Increasingly, however, the use of algorithms is being employed to determine what is called the “risk factor” for defendants.
These algorithms take into account data such as neighborhood, race, age, previous convictions, employment, family structure, and other personal characteristics. After parsing these data points, the computer system will establish the probability that a defendant will or will not commit another crime or even return for trial.
If there is a hearing for bail, you should have an attorney there to press for your release on O.R. or to argue for a bail amount that suits your financial and other circumstances.
If you’re under investigation for a crime and facing jail time, contact my firm. I will fight for your release and mount an aggressive defense against the charges aiming for the best result possible. Pre-trial, I will confer with prosecutors on getting your charges reduced or even dropped.
My firm, Darryl A. Stallworth Law Office, represents clients throughout Oakland, Alameda County, Northern California, San Francisco, and the entire Bay Area. Reach out immediately to set up a detailed case evaluation.