Even as California moves toward reopening fully and more and more people are getting vaccinated against COVID-19, there are still many fears surrounding the virus. Vaccinations, mask policies, and social distancing are the best defenses we have against getting sick; we all need to do our part to keep safe and healthy until the pandemic is over.
Here at Balboa Bail Bonds, we have worked with many clients who are afraid of getting sick or infecting their families while out on bail and have adjusted our own office policies to keep everyone safe. One of the biggest worries we hear from clients is that they will contract the virus while attending court. While your health and safety are important, you may unnecessarily put your future in jeopardy if you miss a court date.
The Consequences of Bail Jumping
When defendants are released on bail, they agree to attend all court appearances and hearings throughout their trial. When they fail to do so, a judge can issue a bench warrant for their arrest and the DA can file additional charges of bail jumping. In most cases, bail jumping results in defendants going back to jail, facing harsher criminal penalties, and forfeiting their bail bond.
Bottom line: do not try to jump bail or miss a court appearance, even if you are afraid of COVID-19. All courts have adjusted their policies and enacted new safety standards to keep defendants safe. In addition, your bail bond agent can answer all of your questions today and help you understand how to protect your health while attending court.
If you have contracted COVID-19, speak to your doctor about how to proceed with treatment and contact your lawyer to discuss moving your court date. Your attorney may be able to request a continuance based on a medical emergency, which can move your court date further down the line until it is safe for you to attend. The judge may also approve a virtual hearing to ensure a speedy trial.
Safety Measures in Southern California Courts
At the start of the pandemic, many California courts shut down in-person hearings, trials, and meetings except for emergency sessions. Since then, the courts have adapted by providing video-call hearings via Zoom and Skype. But at the start of 2021, they largely opened back up. There are still some cases that are handled online, and all courts have some restrictions on in-person appearances. These include:
- Requiring all attendees to wear a mask at all times.
- Performing temperature screenings.
- Requiring negative COVID-19 test results.
- Setting maximum capacity restrictions to encourage social distancing.
You can check the status of your local court online and learn what requirements each court has. For defendants in San Diego, Riverside, and Orange County, we have broken down the safety measures and guidelines you should be aware of:
- San Diego County: Courts are performing temperature checks of every individual who enters the building. Everyone is required to wear a mask or face covering. Jury trials are currently open, and some services are offered online. You can find more information here.
- Riverside County: Courts are requiring defendants to self-certify that they have not been exposed to the virus. Everyone is required to wear a mask or face covering. Jury trials have resumed, but some courts are closed, and others are slowly allowing in-person appearances. You can find more information here.
- Orange County: Courts are performing visual screenings to check for symptoms. Everyone is required to wear a mask or face covering. Jury trials are currently open, and some services are offered online. Courts offer many options for virtual proceedings and hearings. You can find more information here.
Mask Up, Get Vaccinated, Go to Court
A judge will not extend any mercy if you miss a court date without a proper explanation. Beyond the medical emergency of actually having COVID-19, any defendant who misses a court date can be arrested, sent back to jail, lose their bond money, and face further penalties. We know you are simply scared for your health and the health of your family, but there are ways to keep everyone safe while fulfilling your duties to the court.
To protect your freedom and your health, we at Balboa Bail Bonds advise you to:
- Wear a mask at all times when out in public. Multiple research institutes, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO), have shown that wearing a mask over your mouth and nose can prevent the spread of the virus. We believe that the more people who wear masks, the less people will get infected.
- Avoid public gatherings, parties, and events. There may be light at the end of the tunnel, but we all need to stay vigilant and practice social distancing until the coast is clear. Right now, the best thing you can do is limit the number of people you see to your close family, your attorney, your bail bond agent, and anyone at the court you have to meet with.
- Get vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccination appointments are quickly opening up, with California set to allow everyone over 16 to get a free vaccination starting April 15, 2021. If you are over the age of 50, have certain health conditions, or work in a high-risk industry, you may be able to get a vaccination before then. You can check your status and schedule an appointment online. The Moderna vaccine and Pfizer vaccine both come in two doses, so you will need to schedule two appointments to get fully vaccinated, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only has one dose. Once you are vaccinated, it is important to continue wearing a mask and social distancing.
- Do not miss a court appearance. Missing a court appearance can lead to you being arrested, going back to jail, and forfeiting your bond. Under no circumstances should you miss a court appearance.
- Speak to your bail bond agent and attorney if you have concerns. Our bail bond agents at Balboa Bail Bonds are available 24/7, 365 days a year to answer your questions. We are always available to talk about your concerns and explain your options. We have strong relationships with San Diego, Riverside, and Orange County courts. If you need to change a court date or have issues getting to court, call us immediately at (619) 760-2222.
Do Not Hesitate to Call Balboa Bail Bonds
We understand these are trying times and people are scared about their futures. If you or your loved has been arrested, getting out of jail should be your top priority. At Balboa Bail Bonds, we believe the best way you can avoid a hefty prison sentence is to have a strong support system at home, where you can begin fighting for your freedom. We offer affordable payment plans and are always available to help our clients navigate the legal system. Call Balboa Bail Bonds at (619) 760-2222 if you need to post bail in San Diego, Riverside, or Orange County.