There is no need to sit in a jail cell while you are fighting any criminal charges you may be facing. Mounting an effective defensive with your attorney can be best achieved if you are at home with your family while you continue to work and go about your life. Remember that our legal system assumes that all people are innocent until proven guilty. If you are awaiting your chance at a fair trial and have been granted bail by the judge, you will likely need to use a bail bond to get out. If you are a resident of Ventura city or county, call Bail Bonds right away to get back to your regular life.
How Does Bail Work?
Bail is the system by which the courts assure that a defendant (or accused) will go to all their required court appearances. It allows the defendant to be released from incarceration while awaiting their trial if they provide funds and/or assets that can be forfeited in the event of their flight from the trial.
Most defendants’ first court appearance is before the judge in a bail hearing. There is no jury present and this is generally a very short process. Based on various factors in the case, the judge will determine whether the defendant is eligible for bail and, if so, what the amount will be. Ventura County has a bail schedule that provides the judges with rough estimates for bail amounts. Misdemeanor charges can have bail amounts that are usually between $5,000 and $10,000. Felony charges can have bail amounts that range from $20,000 to $500,000.
However, if the accused is deemed to be a serious threat to the wider community, is accused of a particularly heinous crime, and/or has significant resources with which they may flee the trial, then they may be outright denied any bail. In some cases, the judge will likely issue additional conditions that must be observed as part of the bail agreement, like forfeiting any passports to ensure that the defendant does not try to flee to another country.
There are several ways that a defendant can post bail:
- Cash (Section 1269 of Penal Code). If the defendant has enough cash, or the ability to pay with a cashier’s check, then they may directly pay the bail to the court. This is rare and if the court suspects the cash was earned in a felonious manner (through drug dealing, for example), they may deny it and even seize it for evidence.
- Property bond (Section 1276.5 of Penal Code). The defendant may offer a piece of property that is worth twice the amount of the bail as collateral to the court.
- Bail bond (Section 1276 of Penal Code). The defendant pays a bail bondsman a premium to post the bail.
Posting a bail bond is by far the most frequently used method, though it does require some financial commitments on the part of the defendant and/or their family. However, it is generally considered to be the most effective and quickest way to post a bail amount.
How Do Bail Bonds Work?
The state of California licenses a bail bondsman (also known as a bail bond agent) to operate a bail bond business that acts as an intermediary between the defendant and the court in question (in this case Ventura County Superior Court). They charge a premium that is nonrefundable, most frequently 10% of the total bail, to post the rest of the amount and get the defendant out of jail. If a bail lawyer refers the accused to the bondsman, then they may receive a 2% discount.
The family of the defendant can also step in and hire the bail bondsman; though to expedite the process they will usually have to supply the following information:
- Name of the defendant.
- Defendant’s date of birth.
- Defendant’s address.
- Defendant’s place of employment.
- Where the defendant was arrested (city and/or county).
- What facility the defendant is being held at.
- What charges the defendant is facing.
- The bail amount.
If the family is unable to provide all the information, the bondsman will generally be able to find the information themselves, though this will effectively make the whole process longer and the defendant will continue to be stuck in jail.
Because the bail bond agent posts the rest of the bail amount beyond the 8 to 10% premium paid, they effectively have a vested interest in ensuring that the accused does not flee their court dates. Most bondsmen are also bounty hunters and will pursue the defendant to arrest them and bring them to court. They are granted various privileges by the state of California in order to catch fugitives and have the ability to track defendants down.
What Is an OR Release?
If the accused is charged with a minor crime or poses no risk of flight, then the judge may agree to release them of their own recognizance (also known as an OR release). Article 1, Section 12 (c) of the constitution of the state of California allows for OR releases under the judge’s discretion. If the defendant faces a capital crime, they cannot be granted an OR release.
Low-level offenses that frequently result in an OR release are possession of a controlled substance (Health and Safety Code 11350) and a first DUI (driving under the influence) offense. In these cases, the judge usually issues a citation and an order to appear back in court at some pre-determined date in the future.
A California judge usually has to be persuaded to grant an OR release for other offenses. Generally, the judge will consider if the defendant has any outstanding warrants for felonies or a past tendency to not appear for court dates. A bail bond lawyer can be hired for the bail hearing to argue for the judge to implement an OR release in certain cases.
The key components of an argument to be granted an OR release include the assertion that the accused will not compromise the safety of the public or wider community. This is why defendants facing charges for violent crimes are not granted OR releases. Furthermore, if the defendant can assure the judge that they will make all their court dates, then the likelihood that they will be allowed an OR release is effectively increased.
What If The Defendant Skips Bail?
When the defendant refuses to attend their court dates, otherwise known as skipping bail, a variety of serious repercussions come into play. First and foremost, the judge will issue a failure to appear (also known as an FTA) bench warrant. This will also allow the bail bondsman to begin the process of trying to track down and arrest the defendant to bring them to trial.
If the defendant receives an FTA, they will also forfeit any cash and/or bond that they may have paid to the court. Most defendants are also required by the bondsman to provide some kind of collateral as an additional incentive to not flee their trial. This is usually a car and/or house, both of which can be seized to pay off the bail amount that the bondsman provided.
There are several compelling reasons why a defendant may miss a court date. They include serious illness and/or injury, usually resulting in a stay in a medical facility. They may also be excused if they have a mental deficiency and/or illness that prevents them from understanding the gravity of the situation, particularly if they were housed in a psych ward at the time of their court date. Finally, if the defendant was in the custody of some of other law enforcement agency and/or jurisdiction, they may also effectively argue they were unable to attend their hearing. Any of these scenarios, however, must be backed by legitimate documentation from the institutions in question.
What Happens When You Are Arrested?
If a person is accused of a crime, then law enforcement will arrest them. The two law enforcement agencies that operate in Ventura are either the Ventura Police Department or the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. Before the defendant can appear before the judge for their bail hearing and/or arraignment, they must go through the booking process. This will include:
- Taking down the defendant’s name and alleged crime in the digital database for Ventura County.
- Having the defendant take a mug shot. In cases where the defendant can claim that unlawful or excessive force was used, this can be a valuable piece of evidence if they suffered facial injuries while in police custody.
- Taking all personal property and/or clothing from the defendant. All of this will be given back to them upon their release from law enforcement custody unless the items in question provide evidence of further crimes or are illegal themselves (for example, any narcotics found on the defendant’s person).
- Having the defendant provide fingerprints. These fingerprints will then be added to various national databases.
- Having the defendant undergo a full-body search. This may seem excessive, but it is done to ensure that the defendant is not smuggling contraband and/or weapons into the jail.
- Checking that the defendant does not have any other outstanding warrants. If there are other warrants, it is unlikely the judge will grant bail.
- Determining if the defendant has gang affiliations and/or requires protective custody. This means that the defendant must be kept separate from other inmates for everyone’s safety.
- Having the defendant provide a sample of their DNA. Much like the fingerprints, this will then be added to various national databases.
While the defendant waits to see the judge, they will usually be held in a large holding cell. There can be as many as twenty (20) other inmates in this cell and this is traditionally the most dangerous part of the whole ordeal. Many of these other inmates can be violent and/or intoxicated as well as awaiting their booking for extremely serious charges. As a consequence, these holding cells hold every type of defendant, from misdemeanor offenses to serious felonies.
Where Will the Defendant Be Held In Ventura?
Depending on various factors, including available space, how serious the charges are, the defendant’s gender, and any special needs the defendant may have, they may end up in one of three facilities located in the wider Ventura County area.
The primary facility is known as the Ventura Pre-Trial Detention Facility. This is also referred to as the Ventura County Main Jail. It is the largest facility for both male and female inmates and temporarily holds all defendants that are potentially violent offenders as well as anyone who may require psychiatric and/or medical attention. It is located at 800 S Victoria Avenue in the city of Ventura.
There is also the Todd Road Jail (TRJ) which is operated by Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. It is roughly the same size as the Ventura Pre-Trial Detention Facility but it is located between the cities of Ventura and Santa Paula. Its initial designation was to only house inmates who had already been convicted of their respective crimes (not defendants awaiting their bail hearing), but due to serious overcrowding in Ventura County correctional facilities, it is also used for overflow of male inmates from the main county facility.
The final possibility is a smaller substation known informally as the East County Jail. It is also operated by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and is located at their East County Patrol Station at 2101 E Olsen Road in the city of Thousand Oaks. Despite its much smaller size, it is also used as a booking facility and to house defendants waiting to see the judge for their bail hearing or their criminal trial.
Where Can I Find Bail Bondsman Near Me?
A jail cell is an inherently hostile environment. It is best to try and get out as quickly as possible and as safely as possible. No person wants to fight their criminal charges from the inside of a cell! Get out as soon as possible with the help of Bail Bonds by calling 323-579-1415.