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When Not to Post Bail…and Maybe Hire a Lawyer

I hope you all had a happy Halloween. This weekend, not one but two friends called to say that their children had been arrested. One was a juvenile and was released with a notice that they would be contacted in the future to appear in court. The other was a young adult arrested in Los Angeles County for DUI causing injury or felony DUI. In LA, the bail schedule says if you are arrested for DUI causing injury your bail will be set at $100,000.00. This means that if you want to post bail, it will cost you or your family between $7,000 and $10,000. This is money that is earned upon your release from custody and you will never see again. This is before your hire a private lawyer and before you know if you will even be charged with a crime.

My son is scared…They are saying he won’t go to court until Tuesday…Visiting hours were cancelled at the Van Nuys Jail. What should we do? My wife’s friends, brothers, husband is a bail bondsman. Should we call him? NO, NO and No.

Call a lawyer first. Always call a lawyer first. Bail bondsman make their money by posting bail bonds, not by giving legal advice. 75% of all misdemeanor cases in the City of Los Angeles come from felony arrests. Let me say that again…Three quarters of all misdemeanors in LA come from felony arrests. This includes DUI which is the most commonly prosecuted case in the state of California.

What does that mean to me? My son/daughter/loved one is in jail and they tell me it is terrible. “The food is bad…They are mean to me…They won’t let me use the phone…They never read me my rights…They won’t tell me when I go to court…I’ve heard it all.

Sit tight and you will see the judge within two business days. That means that if you get arrested on Halloween night, you won’t go to court until Tuesday. But can’t I get out now? Do I have to spend ten grand on bail? Can’t something be done? Will I go to County Jail? I hear it’s really bad there.

Let’s pretend that this is Las Vegas. There is a 75 percent chance that your felony arrest will be a misdemeanor prosecution. In a misdemeanor prosecution there is a presumption that you should be released based upon your promise to come back to court without even posting bail. That’s right, if you wait the two days, there is a good chance you can get out of jail for free. Even if bail is set, there is a good chance that bail will be less than $100,000. On a bad day it might be $50,000. The two days in custody just saved you $4,000 to $5,000. It sounds like it might be worth the wait? It’s up to you. Even in a worst case scenario, if bail is not reduced, you can still post bail before the defendant is transferred to county jail.

Next, it might be possible to resolve the case at the arraignment. This is often not the best choice in resolving criminal cases, but it is another viable option. Rather than spending seven to ten thousand dollars on bail, hire a lawyer for less money than that, have him present at the arraignment and see if either the case can be settled quickly, bail can be lowered, the charges can be reduced or, if need be, bail can be posted.

If you call me late Tuesday afternoon I will be happy to tell you how this arrest played out.

Jeffrey S. Vallens Attorney at Law

If you have questions about bail or the criminal process, call me (818) 783-5700 or (888) 764-4340