Hundreds of thousands of individuals are arrested in California every year. Unfortunately, jail time can be legally imposed for a variety of crimes, from felonies all the way down to some traffic tickets — even people who are presumed innocent can be held in jail while their criminal case is pending.
If you are arrested, there are several ways you can avoid staying in jail until your court appearance. In most cases, it is important to work with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to help you ensure that you can get out of jail.
Ask for an appearance ticket
If you are arrested for a violation, misdemeanor or, in some cases, a low-level felony crime, you can request an appearance ticket. These are notices that you must appear at a particular court on a particular date and at a specific time.
Keep in mind that if you are uncooperative or resistant when being arrested, the police won't be inclined to give you an appearance ticket. It's important to remain polite and respectful and it can help to explain that you have a job or community responsibility. However, in some cases, it may not be up to the arresting officer whether you're able to receive an appearance ticket.
Get the judge to release you
One of the earliest steps that takes place after you have been arrested is an initial hearing by a judge. The judge can decide to release you until your court appearance. You may be released on recognizance, which requires you to sign a written promise that you'll attend your court date. There may be a pretrial release program, which usually involves paying a lowered bail or bond amount.
Other release possibilities include home confinement or GPS monitoring, which are still far less restrictive than being in jail.
In deciding whether to release you, the judge considers:
- Your character and any ties to the community
- Your employment record and financial resources
- Your criminal record and past court behavior, if any
- The severity of the charges and the strength of the case against you
Making bail (or posting a bond)
If you're not released on recognizance or through a monitoring program, the judge will often set a bail amount (except in high-level felony cases) which can be paid in order to get you out of jail. The dollar amount usually determines whether you will pay the bail or post a bond.
Lower bail amounts may be paid from your own funds or by family or friends. If the bail is set significantly high you can work with a bondsman who will charge you 10 percent of the total bail amount and “post” the remainder of the bail money to the court on your behalf. For example, if your bail was set at $10,000, you would pay the bondsman $1,000 to have him post bail for you.
How a criminal defense lawyer can help
Being arrested is a disturbing and often frightening experience. The sooner you speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, the faster you may be able to get out of jail and go home. An attorney can help you convince a judge to release you, find a bondsman to post high bail amounts, and more.
Vitaly Sigal, a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer, delivers aggressive defense representation for people who have been charged with various crimes and arrested. To discuss the details of your case with Mr. Sigal, contact our office today. He will investigate the details of your arrest and guide you through the criminal process.