If you are arrested for a crime in Oakland, you probably want to get out of jail as soon as possible. Some defendants can get out of jail on their own "recognizance." Other defendants may have to put up bail before they can get released. If you can't post bail, you may risk losing your job if you can't go to work.
Even more important than bail is a strong legal defense. An experienced East Bay criminal defense lawyer can help to get you out of jail as quickly as possible, and let you know what you can expect going forward. A strong legal defense can help you avoid a criminal conviction, so you can keep your job, your license, and get back to living your life after an unfortunate arrest.
How Does Bail Work in California?
An arrest is the first part of a criminal charge experience. However, the person arrested may not end up having their court date for weeks or longer. It all starts when someone is placed under arrest by a police officer out on the side of the road or wherever the police first encounter the "suspect." When the suspect is brought into the police station, they are booked into jail. The booking process can include fingerprinting, photos, and taking personal information. For cases like drunk driving arrests, the suspect may also have to submit to a chemical breath test.
The defendant may have their first court appearance before a judge during the arraignment. The arraignment is the criminal court process where the judge reads the charges against the defendant and the defendant has a chance to respond. In most cases, the defendant can say "not guilty," and have their trial scheduled for a later date. The judge may then set the bail for the defendant.
Bail is an amount of money that the defendant has to put up in order to get released from jail. The bail money works like a guarantee that the defendant will return to court for their trial date or other court hearings. If the defendant doesn't show up, the state can keep the bail money and issue a warrant for the defendant's arrest.
What Is a Bail Bondsman?
Most people do not have enough cash lying around to post bail. Bail could be $10,000 or more and it can be difficult for friends and family to come up with that kind of money to put up as collateral to get the defendant released. As a result, a bail bond company can help the defendant get released without raising the full amount of money.
A bail bondsman or bail bond business will act as the guarantee for the court for the defendant's release. The bond company will generally take a fee, usually 10% of the bond amount, as payment for guaranteeing the defendant will show up to court. The bail bondsman may also require some collateral that covers the remaining bail amount, like a deed to a vehicle. Unlike posting bail directly, with a bond, the defendant cannot get the money back after they complete all their court appearances.
California Bail Schedules
California courts generally follow an annual misdemeanor and felony bail schedule. A bail schedule is supposed to ensure everyone gets treated more or less equally when setting bail for pretrial release. However, wealthier people find it much easier to come up with bail money than others.
According to the 2022 Alameda County Court bail schedule, the purpose of the bail schedule is " to fix an amount upon which a person who is arrested without a warrant may be released from custody prior to appearance in court." County courts adopt a uniform schedule for felony and misdemeanor offenses. A court hearing is required before anyone can be released on their own recognizance or on bail. The decision to issue bail is within the discretion of the court.
Defendants who are eligible for bail are generally released on their own recognizance release unless the court makes a determination that the defendant is a flight risk or poses a danger to public safety. If they require posting bail, the court must consider the defendant's ability to pay and not set bail just to detain the defendant because they don't have financial resources.
Examples of Bail Schedules
The following are some examples of the 2022 bail schedules set by Alameda County Court:
- DUI: $10,000
- DUI with injury: $75,000 + $10,000 per victim
- Felony DUI (with 3 prior DUIs): $100,000
- Hit and run without injury: $20,000
- Possession of marijuana for sale, over 1 lb.: $30,000
- Carrying a concealed weapon: $40,000
- Stalking in violation of a restraining order: $150,000
- 1st degree burglary: $50,000
- Arson of an inhabited structure: $250,000
- Rape: $100,000
- Assault with a deadly weapon: $10,000 misdemeanor or $30,000 felony
Ineligible for Pre-Court Appearance Release
Some offenses are not eligible for pre-court appearance release, including:
- A “serious felony” as defined in Penal Code section 1192.7(c).
- A “violent felony” as defined in Penal Code section 667.5(c), except for a residential burglary under Penal Code section 460(a).
- Penal Code section 136.1(c) (preventing or dissuading testimony), if a felony.
- Penal Code section 262 (spousal rape), if a misdemeanor or felony.
- Penal Code section 273.5 (spousal battery) if a misdemeanor or felony.
- Penal Code section 273.6 (violation of a domestic violence protective order).
- Penal Code section 422 (terrorist threats), if a felony.
- Penal Code section 646.9 (stalking) if a misdemeanor or felony
How Much Is Bail for Drunk Driving in Oakland?
For most drivers facing a misdemeanor DUI in Oakland, the judge will generally release the defendant on their own recognizance. However, if the court determines the defendant may pose a flight risk or risk of harm to the community, the judge can set bail or deny release. For most drunk driving offenses without serious injury or other aggravating factors, bail will not be set at more than $10,000.
Call an East Bay Criminal Defense Lawyer to Get Out of Jail
Lynn Gorelick has more than 39 years of East Bay criminal defense experience and understands how difficult it can be to keep your job and family together if you are behind bars. If you are facing criminal charges anywhere in Oakland, Alameda County, or Contra Costa County, contact Lynn Gorelick.