In the state of California, almost everyone who is arrested can be released from jail with bail. The only exceptions are people arrested for “serious felonies”. In this case, the Department of Justice states that a hearing may be held before a magistrate or judge.
This is commonly known as a bail bond hearing.
However, to complicate matters further, there is also another type of bail bond hearing in California. This guide will explain both types and what to expect if you ever need to attend one.
What is a Bail Bond Hearing?
As stated above, a bail bond hearing is when someone is arrested and the court decides if they’re released on bail. The arrestee’s attorney will schedule the hearing and argue their case.
Alternatively, a bail bond hearing in California may refer to when a bail bond company contacts the court and requests changes to the bail amount. This is extremely common as it helps defendants get the fairest bail possible.
In either scenario, a bail bond hearing will typically take place within 48 hours of the defendant being arrested and charged. The sooner you contact an attorney and bail bond company, the sooner you can request a hearing and come to a conclusion.
Preparation: What Kind of Questions Are Asked at a Bail Bond Hearing?
What happens at a bail bond hearing? Traditionally, the defendant is put before a judge who will ask a series of questions to assess if they either a) should be released with bail, or b) if their current bail deserves to be lowered.
Some of these questions will be asked to the defendant’s representatives, but there are a few you should prepare for. A judge could ask you any of the following:
- Can you confirm your personal information? (Name, address, date of birth, etc…)
- What is your current employment status?
- What is your current relationship status?
- Do you have any children, if so, how old are they?
- Are you involved in the local community?
The first question is largely to confirm who you are while the others focus on your life within the local community. A judge wants to see if you’ve got a strong connection to the community or have people who depend on you. For example, someone with a young family who does a lot of charity work will normally be viewed better than someone with no ties to the community at all.
As such, the judge will likely grant bail if it hasn’t already been set. Or, if your bail bond hearing is to reduce your bail amount, they might look favorably on you and grant this request.
Other questions asked at the hearing that won’t be directed at you include things like:
- What is the defendant’s criminal history?
- What is the defendant’s current financial situation?
- Does the defendant have a propensity for violence?
- Is the defendant deemed a public safety risk?
- Has the defendant ever skipped bail before?
These are all asked to help the judge get as much information as possible about you (the defendant) so they can make a good decision. It goes without saying that individuals who have previously skipped bail or show clear signs of endangering the public will not be granted bail.
Exploring The Bail Bond Review Process
A bail bond company can request a bail bond hearing on your behalf to enter the review process. You will attend court with the bail bond agent and your attorney to argue a case for the scheduled bail amount to be reduced.
This process will largely revolve around you proving to the court that the initial bail amount is too much. Your attorney may point to your clean criminal past or existing financial obligations to show that the current amount is far too unaffordable. There is no guarantee that bail will be reduced, though a bail bond company will usually only recommend this hearing if they believe it can be brought down.
Consequently, it’s worth going through the bail bond review process just in case you get the right outcome. At the end of the day, the worst-case scenario puts you exactly where you were beforehand.
Bail Bond Hearing Frequency: How Many Bail Bond Hearings Are There in California?
Truthfully, bail bond hearings in California are rare given the current bail laws. Most people are arrested, charged, and released on bail. It’s only the severe cases when a bail hearing is needed to decide if someone should get bail or be forced to remain in jail awaiting trial.
The same can be said for other bail bond hearings aiming to reduce the bail amount. We currently don’t have any California bail statistics that show how many of these hearings take place, but our experience says they’re relatively rare.
What Are The Possible Outcomes of a Bail Bond Hearing?
A multitude of outcomes can arise from a bail bond hearing depending on how it goes and who is involved. This will include:
- The court approves the bail request and sets conditions that the defendant must adhere to if they wish to remain out of jail.
- The court denies the bail request and the defendant is forced to go back to jail until their trial happens.
- The court approves the request to reduce bail and sets a new bail amount, possibly with updated terms for the defendant.
- The court denies the request to reduce bail and the defendant must either pay the original amount or stay in jail.
No matter which way you look at it, a bail bond hearing is important to help defendants acquire bail or lower their bail to a more affordable amount. If you need help with anything to do with bail bonds in California, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today. We’re more than happy to explain the bail bond process or to offer guidance on what to do before and during a hearing.