Right to a Bail Hearing

Understanding your Rights Under California Law

In California, you have a right to a bail hearing.  At a bail hearing a judge may use his or her discretion to alter the initial bail amount.  A bail hearing enables you to ask the judge to reduce your bail or to eliminate the bail conditions completely.  Penal Code Section 1275 governs bail setting, reducing and denying.

A judge will take a number of factors under consideration when determining whether or not to reduce or eliminate your bail.  Some of those factors include whether or not you can afford the bail.  If you show financial hardship a judge may be willing to reduce your bail amount or release you on your own recognizance.  You will have to be considered a low flight risk and it will depend on the circumstances of the crime.  A judge will also take into consideration the seriousness of the offense, your criminal history and whether or not you are likely to appear at court for future hearings.  A judge must always weigh a defendant’s rights vs the protection of the public.

A judge may also hear arguments from the prosecution to increase the original bail amount.  The prosecutor may ask for an increase in bail if new circumstances or evidence has arisen that change the original nature of the crime.  For instance, if the original bail was set without knowledge of a prior conviction for the same offense, a prosecutor may ask the judge to increase the amount.  In rare circumstances, a judge may decide to hold a defendant without the right to post bail.  Holding a defendant without the eligibility for release is reserved for only the most serious of crimes where the defendant poses a risk to public safety.

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