Are you in jail because of a crime? The first idea that will cross your mind is securing freedom through bail. Bail is the funds you, as the accused, deposit with the court as your ticket out of jail awaiting prosecution. If you are a first-time offender in Malibu, you want to understand the procedures police follow during an arrest and whether the apprehension was lawful. Besides, you want to know how booking into custody happens, the process of posting bail, and the relationship between bail and your trial. At 24 Hour Online Bail Bonds, we have highlighted these in this article for a deeper insight into the bail process.
Procedures Followed By Police When Making an Arrest
When you are apprehended for an offense, you lose your ultimate right to freedom. Although you are on the wrong side of the law, police officers must follow the correct procedures to ensure an arrest is legal and your rights are protected.
If you have a reasonable belief that you are not free to leave when you encounter law enforcement, it means you are under arrest. You don’t need to be in a police cruiser or handcuffs to know you have been apprehended. These are just measures in place to protect officers from physical assault by arrestees.
Similarly, before any interrogation by the police, they must recite the Miranda rights. However, many officers read these rights immediately after an arrest to commence interrogation right away. Everything you say at this point will be used against you in criminal court. However, if the officers fail to recite these rights, the information you disclose is not admissible in court as evidence.
In addition, there are other procedures available to protect the arresting officer’s physical safety, assist in evidence documentation and protect officers from mistakes that could create room for challenging the arrest.
An arrest will be legal if it occurs under the following limited circumstances:
The Arresting Officer Personally Observes a Crime
When an officer sees you breaking the law, they have a right to arrest and place you in custody based on the observation. The common crimes that occur under these circumstances include drunk driving and purse snatching.
The Police Officer Has Probable Cause That You Committed An Offense
Another circumstance when an officer can arrest you is when they have a reasonable belief that you have engaged in a violation of the law or are about to break the law. Facts and circumstances must support the probable cause.
For instance, you might report a bank robbery to the police and describe the robbers. If the police find an individual that matches your description, they will stop and search the person. When vast amounts of cash or a firearm are located on the suspect, the police will rationally believe the individual committed the robbery resulting in apprehension and detention.
The Police Have a Judge Issued Warrant
Where there is no probable cause or observation of a crime by the police, a warrant is necessary for an arrest. An arrest warrant is issued against you if police have conducted investigations and found enough evidence to link you with a crime. The warrant points out the violation of law, that party alleged to have engaged in the breach, the suspect’s location, and permission to the officer to place the party in custody.
A law enforcement officer cannot arrest you because they feel that you have broken the law. An arrest must be justified or backed by evidence that resulted in the likely cause. Otherwise, you should challenge it.
Use of Excessive Force
As an arrestee, you shouldn’t suffer from cruel treatment at the hands of the police. They should use minimum force for physical protection and bring you in custody. Officers are not allowed to use excessive force, and when they do, you can challenge the arrest. Consequently, you shouldn’t resist an arrest even when you feel it is not justified. Comply with the officer’s instructions and challenge the accusations later through an attorney.
Challenging an Unlawful Arrest
You have a right to remain silent after apprehension and free from illegal searches. When police officers violate any of these rights, the arrest will be unlawful, and the judge will dismiss the case. Even if the matter remains in court, some evidence may be thrown out if obtained illegally. If evidence becomes inadmissible, the lawsuit becomes weaker due to insufficient evidence, resulting in a favorable outcome.
The Booking Process
After an apprehension, the next stop is usually jail or police custody, where you are booked and detained until you are presented before a judge. In the booking stage, the officer:
Takes your personal info
Records info regarding the baseline offense
Does a search on your criminal background
Takes photos and fingerprints
Confiscates your personal effects
Places you in a police cell or county jail
The procedure is further discussed below:
Recording Crucial Info
The booking or processing phase of the criminal justice system involves compiling your crucial information like name, contact info, and characteristics of the alleged offense, the law violated included. The data is obtained from accounts by witnesses or from the citation.
The next step involves the officers taking a sequence of photographs known as mug shots. These images indicate your height, the date, and descriptions of the incident.
Confiscation of Personal Items
After the series of pictures, the next stage involves relinquishing personal items and clothing. The booking officer then issues you with jail clothes. Remember, the personal effects are confiscated temporarily and will be released to you when you leave jail. However, if any contraband was in your possession during booking, it will be held as evidence, and you might have it back.
Fingerprinting involves taking an imprint of all ten fingers. The officer will ask you to roll the finger to record the prints. If there is fingerprint evidence in your case, the officer will compare the patterns to yours. If they are a match, you are likely to be convicted. However, if they are not a match, they will eliminate you as a suspect from the case.
After fingerprinting, the officer will ask you to strip naked to perform an entire body search. Because this stage involves removing all the clothes, it can be invasive but necessary to prevent drugs or weapons from making their way into holding cells or jail. There are no specific circumstances when police can conduct a strip search, which can occur even where no serious offenses like drugs are involved.
Search for Active Warrants
You might commit a crime out-of-state and come to hide in Los Angeles. If you are arrested for another crime while in hiding, the officer needs to know if you have active warrants. This is the reason for searching for outstanding warrants in the police database. That way, they can resolve unrelated offenses by chance.
Detention or Incarceration
Lastly, you will be detained in a police cell or jail pending bail posting.
Note that not all arrests involve the booking process. The arresting officer might require you only to sign a yellow document called a citation, promising to be present for upcoming hearings and the trial. However, if your offense requires you to remain behind bars, you must obtain a pretrial release via posting bail or your recognizance.
Obtaining Freedom After an Arrest
Generally, once you are in jail, freedom is obtained via posting bail. After the jail release, you promise to be present for the appointed court proceedings. When you show up as arranged, the court returns the cash or property you deposited. However, not showing up will result in a loss of bail funds.
The Bail Setting Procedure
After your arrest and booking, what’s crucial is knowing the amount of bail you must pay. Sometimes you might not see the judge immediately, especially if it’s on the weekend. The earliest you can see a judge after a weekend arrest is Monday. However, in Los Angeles County, a chart sets standard bail for common offenses, meaning you could leave jail if your crime appears on the chart. However, before you are released, you must pay the fixed amount provided in the schedule.
The amount you pay only guarantees you future court appearances and should not be used as a means of consolidating money for the government or as a punishment. Therefore, the amount should be reasonable to obtain these objectives.
However, this theory is overlooked by many judges when setting bail because they tend to set high amounts for defendants charged with serious offenses to discourage them from obtaining freedom. If you have been arrested for homicide suspicions or drug dealing, the penalties for incarceration are harsh, increasing the chances of flight. Your defense attorney can contest the court’s decision to impose excessive bail, but these attempts are usually futile.
Other times, the bail might be reasonable, but you may be unable to raise the money due to financial constraints. You must request a special hearing or wait for your first court appearance to request a reduction here.
When your case requires a judge to set the bail, you must go through the bail proceeding where a magistrate or judge examines the characteristics and circumstances of your charges to set bail necessary to ensure you don’t miss appointed court dates. During this proceeding, the court will look into the nature and worth of the property that you may be planning to utilize as collateral. Other factors the court examines are:
Weight of the proof against you
Whether you were on probation during the underlying arrest
Evidence of your character
The severity of the threat you pose to the community.
Some of these considerations are further highlighted below:
Your History and Character
The judge will consider the physical and mental well-being, criminal history, and family ties during the proceeding. Additionally, they will assess your drug and alcohol abuse history, financial capabilities, the record of court attendance, and the period you have lived in your community.
Risk to the Community
If the court deems you as a threat to the safety of your community, they will deny bail. On other occasions, the court might order your release on an unsecured appearance bond, also called personal recognizance. However, if this option can’t guarantee your court appearances or your safety and that of the community, they will impose conditions delineated by the federal statutes. The requirements are:
Refrain from excessive alcohol or controlled substance use
Maintain employment or seek one if you are unemployed
Surrendering your passport to limit travel
Adhere to periodic check-ins with authorities
Stay away from the victims of your crime
Remain in the custody of a chosen party
Note that even if you appeal the court’s bail decision in the appellate court, they might not overrule the initial court decision unless it was erroneous, unreasonable, or unsupported by the case’s facts.
After the court determines your bail, you can post it through cash or check, bail bond, relinquishing property ownership rights, or personal recognizance.
Typically, a personal recognizance release is the best option because it’s unsecured. However, for most defendants, the best available option is purchasing a bail bond. You will need to bring in your Malibu bail agency to help you with the release process when it comes to bonds. You will pay the bondsman 10% of the bail as a fee for buying the bail bond. The price is non-refundable, and on top of it, the bail agent will need some collateral to secure the full bond they deposit with the court on your behalf.
Your Malibu bondsman becomes responsible for your court appearances. If you skip court, the money posted by the bail agency will be forfeited. To avoid losses, the agency will cash in the property you had put up as collateral.
Therefore, whenever you rely on a bondsman to secure freedom in Malibu, they should walk you through the release conditions. By doing so, you understand your responsibilities which include court appearances, and this prevents bail forfeiture.
Note that although you might have the cash to pay the bail upfront, using bail services is always the best option because you prevent many inquiries that might delay the release process. Also, if you don’t have the cash to pay the bail, your Malibu bail bonds will come to the rescue and prevent you from staying in jail until the determination of your case. Remaining in prison can negatively affect the outcome of the case in many ways hence the need to partner with a bondsman to post bail for you.
Relationship Between Bail and Criminal trial
If it’s your first time behind bars, you might not know how crucial it is to post bail and attend trial from home and not a holding cell. To understand the importance of a bail release, you must understand the relationship between bail and trial.
One advantage of bail release is it lowers the likelihood of pleading guilty. When you are denied or unable to raise bail money, you remain in custody until the close of the case. The trial might take weeks, months, or sometimes years, which could push you to plead guilty instead of spending more time in jail.
However, when you have freedom, you won’t have any rush to conclude the case. You will have time to work with an attorney and increase the chances of a positive outcome.
Also, when you have freedom, you can prepare adequately for the case because you can afford an attorney. With a private attorney, you will have the resources and time to prepare for the trial. However, if you are in jail, you can only afford a public defender who will have limited time to discuss or evaluate the case.
Being in jail is a disadvantage to the defendant, and the prosecutor might take advantage of this to offer an unfavorable plea deal. However, when enjoying freedom after a bailout, you have an advantage over the prosecutor, and the only way you can accept a plea deal is if it’s favorable. Besides, you will have an attorney by your side, meaning you will build a watertight defense that will increase the chances of winning the case. And because prosecutors are afraid of losing a case in trial, they will be forced to agree to your attorney’s terms during plea bargaining.
Again, a pretrial release lowers the probability of a conviction or brutal consequences. Most defendants are denied bail because of the watertight evidence against them and the severity of the crime. Therefore, if the court grants bail, it is a sign the evidence against you is weak, and even if you are convicted, the penalties will be less strict.
You can conclude from this relationship that finishing your case trial out of custody will be more beneficial than when in jail. Therefore, whenever the judge grants bail in Malibu, and you can’t consolidate the amount, you should talk to a bondsman.
Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff Station Jail
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Find a Bail Agency Near Me
Finishing your trial outside jail is always an advantage. However, the process involved from the arrest to the pretrial release is overwhelming, which is why you must retain bail services. At 24 hour Online Bail Bonds, we are ready to help you with the bail process if arrested in Malibu, Los Angeles County, and ensure you prove your innocence when free. Contact us today at 800-930-8999 for a free consultation.