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The Criminal Process

You can be arrested without a warrant based on probable cause to believe you committed a crime.

How Does Bail Work

Bail is a cash or bond guarantee that the defendant will appear in court at a future time. After a person is arrested the sheriff's office sets the bail amount according to a bail schedule - this amount can be changed later in court. The bail amount is the overall amount that you would need to post if you do not want to deal with a Bail Bond Agent. If you post the full bail amount directly with the court, you will eventually get that money back when the case is over.

If you cannot afford the full amount of bail you can pay a bail bond agent to post the bond for you. A bail bond agent typically charges anywhere from 7% to 10% of the total bail amount. If you use a bail bond agent, the amount paid to the bail agent goes to them, you do not get it back. That is the bail fee. When the case is over, even if your loved one goes back to jail as part of the sentence, the bail agent gets to keep the bail fee.

Should I Post Bail?
No one wants to be in jail. However, there is some wisdom to staying in custody and earning custody credits. The credit you earn while in custody can be applied to your overall sentence as part of a negotiated plea. It is hard to predict how much custody anyone will have to do in any particular case. Experience counts when it comes to negotiating your deal and planning an overall strategy for getting you out of custody as soon as possible. Sometimes the money is better spent on a good lawyer than on a few weeks out of custody.

Pennywise and Pound Foolish
I was recently contacted by a family who spent $10,000 to get their son out on bail and did not have enough money to hire "a real lawyer", as they put it. They called me just before sentencing because the not-so-good lawyer had negotiated a horrible deal. They spent $10,000 on their son's bail only to lose the bail money - and their son - when he went to prison for 8 years.

I felt horrible for them. Had they spent that money on an experienced lawyer who understood the value of a case their son could have been out a lot sooner in the long-run. They won the short-term battle of getting their son out on bail for a short time only to lose the war and $10,000 when he was sentenced to prison.

Traffic Amnesty Program
Starts: October 1, 2015
Ends: March 31, 2017

The San Diego Superior Court is offering a traffic amnesty program giving you the opportunity to pay court fines at a reduced rate.

If you have unpaid tickets with fines originally due before January 31, 2013 and you have not made a payment since September 30, 2015, you might by eligible to have both your outstanding debt reduced by 50 or 80 percent and the hold lifted on your driver's license. The amount debt reduction depends on your income.

If you made a payment after September 30, 2015 you are not eligible for a reduced fine on that ticket, but you may be eligible to have your driver's license reinstated if you are up to date on a payment plan with the court.

Visit the court's website here or go to your local traffic court and tell them you want to apply for traffic amnesty.