“Can you be released without bail in California?” Yes. But, it’s not all simple. Under California Law, arrested defendants can contest an O.R. release. However, it does not apply to everyone.
An O.R. or own recognizance release exempts the defendant from paying their bail. Instead, they only need to sign a written promise to be present in future court appearances and follow other bail conditions.
The court uses various measures (e.g., background check, bail algorithm, etc.) to determine if a defendant is eligible for an O.R. release. A defendant charged with felony offenses is not suitable for an O.R. release in most cases.
We created this brief and informative post to help you understand the legalities behind an O.R. release.
A release on own recognizance (O.R.) is given to defendants who have not been deemed a ‘flight risk’ by the law. The court will let a defendant get out of jail without posting bail.
A common misconception about the release on recognizance is that it’s a free ticket out of jail. The fact is it’s more complicated than that. Upon being released on recognizance, the court will impose terms on the defendant.
Suppose the defendant fails to meet these requirements. The court can enact punishment on the defendant.
California Penal Code 1270(a) P.C. outline defendants who are permitted by the court to pursue bail:
A defendant who is arrested for a non-capital crime;
A defendant who is arrested on an out-of-county warrant;
A defendant who committed a misdemeanor offense.
The penal code also states that only the court allowed by the law to release a defendant giving bail can issue an O.R. release.
A defendant who committed heinous crimes is not allowed to obtain a personal recognizance bond. The judge cannot let them out of jail without setting bail.
HOW DOES AN OWN RECOGNIZANCE RELEASE WORK?
A defendant may initiate a request to be released on own recognizance (O.R.) during the arraignment. An arraignment is the defendant’s first court hearing.
During the arraignment, the defendant’s party may enter a no-contest plea. This phase is also when the judge will issue the defendant’s bail. If you believe that the bail is unreasonable, you can demand a modification or an O.R. release.
When a defendant lacks outstanding warrants and has a clean criminal record, the court may grant them O.R. release. There are also cases when the court may request your appearance for a bail hearing before approving your request.
Understanding the state’s cash bail system requires a profound knowledge of criminal law. Seeking the advice of a criminal defense attorney can help you know the specifics of your case.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR AN O.R. RELEASE?
The court releases certain defendants under an “own recognizance release.” The court’s criteria are heavily based on the defendant’s criminal offense record. Here are some of deciding factors the court may use to determine your eligibility:
Nature of the offense (is it a misdemeanor or a felony offense?)
The outcome of bail hearings
Past and current criminal charges
Newly arrested defendants undergo a pre-trial risk assessment. This evaluation will determine the defendant’s risk level (low, mid, or high-risk). Low-risk defendants often have a higher chance of obtaining an O.R. release than defendants of other risk levels.
If an O.R. release is not a viable option for you, alternative options still exist. One of the well-known approaches is to hire a bail bond agent. However, it’s essential to assess whether this is a beneficial option for your case with a lawyer.
A bail officer, bail agent, or a bail bond company is an individual or organization that takes the defendant’s bail responsibility.
HOW DOES A JUDGE DECIDE TO RELEASE YOU ON YOUR OWN RECOGNIZANCE?
Judges often use what is known as ‘bail algorithms’ to decide a defendant’s bail conditions. A bail algorithm is a trend-based analysis used to estimate the likelihood of a defendant committing a crime post-bail.
Several factors are included in the bail algorithm formula:
Prior criminal record
Demographic factors (age, location, etc.,)
Currently, some states are reforming their bail system to factor in the defendant’s ability to pay cash bail. The privilege to afford bail varies depending on the defendant’s economic status.
Although bail algorithms are widely used across the state, criticisms against the tool exist. Some necessary factors such as the history of substance abuse and employment status are not factored in by the algorithm.
WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS OF O.R. RELEASE?
Once the court approves the defendant’s O.R. release, there are certain conditions they need to observe. A released defendant needs to appear in court as required. In addition, they shouldn’t commit any crime while the terms are in effect.
The court may impose additional terms if necessary. Most conditions established by the judges vary per case. Take DUI cases as an example. The court may prevent you from ingesting alcohol or going to bars. The court may also order you to meet with a probation officer regularly.
If the defendant fails to appear on the court date, they will face legal penalties. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you avoid facing these penalties. Moreover, they can also help you reduce your punishments.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU VIOLATE RELEASE ON YOUR OWN RECOGNIZANCE?
As mentioned earlier, failure to meet an O.R.’s condition is unlawful. The defendant risks being arrested or, worse, facing heavier penalties.
The judge may set a new bail amount or revoke your O.R. release if this happens. Additionally, the prosecutor can file a motion to request that the defendant’s bond be revoked. The defendant will have to stay in jail until their trial date.
When it comes to facing such charges, the assistance of criminal defense attorneys is paramount.
Failure to appear before the court or violating a stipulated condition while under an O.R. release may prompt the court to issue a bench warrant.
A bench warrant is an arrest warrant that authorizes law enforcement officers to take you into custody for violating the court.
When arrested, the law enforcement officer may hold you in the county jail until your arraignment. At the arraignment, the court will determine whether to release you or set bail.
If the court determines you should remain in custody, they may issue a request for transfer to move you to a prison facility.
When you fail to meet the conditions provided by the court, they may issue a new set of requirements for your O.R. release. Often these are stricter and harsher than the former terms.
The court may require you to set bail or prevent you from traveling outside the state. The court may also require you to partake in counseling or treatment programs. The court will impose these new conditions based on the nature of your violation.
You must confer with an experienced criminal defense lawyer if you find yourself in this predicament. They can help you negotiate with the court and reduce the severity of the new conditions.
NEW CRIMINAL CHARGES
When you violate the conditions of your O.R. release, the court may issue new criminal charges against you. Depending on the intensity of your initial violation, the court may charge you with a misdemeanor or felony.
If you’re found guilty of violating your O.R., you may face jail time, fines, and other penalties. The court will also consider revoking your O.R. release and setting a new bail amount.
It’s critical to seek an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side if you’re facing criminal charges while on O.R. release. They can help negotiate with the prosecutor and reduce the severity of the charges against you.
DRIVER LICENSE SUSPENSIONS
If you’re on O.R. release and your driver’s license is suspended, the court may require you to attach an ignition interlock device (IID) to your vehicle.
An IID is a device that measures a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). If the tool detects a high blood alcohol concentration on the driver’s breath, the car will not start.
Furthermore, the court may also require you to attend a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV is the government body responsible for the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.
You need to find and speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer if you’re on O.R. release and your driver’s license is suspended. They can help you negotiate with the court and DMV to reduce the penalties.
Your lawyer may demand a restricted license in place of a revocation. Moreover, they can contest the court’s decision and how it will significantly affect your responsibilities.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
CAN I BE RELEASED FROM JAIL WITHOUT HAVING TO PAY BILL?
It is possible to bail someone out of jail without having to pay any money. This is done through something called an “O.R.” release. An “O.R.” release means that the court agrees to let you out of custody on your ownrecognizancewithout the need to post bail.
HOW IS BAIL USUALLY SET?
A judge sets bail according to the county bail schedule. Each county has published a list of offenses and the corresponding presumptive bail amount.
Judges have a great deal of discretion in deciding whether to require bail or release a defendant on their own recognizance. In determining bail, the court will assume that every allegation in the police report is valid and balance that assumption with the following factors.
These factors are meant to assure that client will appear in court assuming bail or an OR release is granted:
Prior criminal history as well as any prior failures to appear in court
Ties to the community – this includes work history, family, and real estate owned in the community
Risk of violence in the community
WHAT IF MY REQUEST FOR THE RELEASE OF MY OWN RECOGNIZANCE IS DENIED?
If your request for the release of your own recognizance is denied, you may have to set bail or remain in custody until your trial date. You can also petition the court to reconsider its decision.
Moreover, several bail or bond options are available under California Law. The acceptable bail options in California are court-financed bail or a collateral bail bond.
Court-financed bail: A court-financed bail is a hybrid bail system offered in some states. The defendant will pay 10% of the total bail amount, which the court will refund if the defendant completes all court appearances. Failure to complete the required court appearances will punish the defendant by paying the total amount of bail.
Collateral bail: A collateral bail exists between a bail agent and the defendant. Upon agreement, the bail agent will require the defendant to provide collateral property (i.e., a house or a car). The agent would use this collateral if the defendant jumped on bail.
A proficient criminal defense lawyer can help you with this process and increase your chances of being released.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I FAIL TO APPEAR IN COURT?
The California court can issue a bench warrant to arrest defendants who fail to appear or attend a court hearing. The defendant’s penalty varies depending on the case they initially committed.
For a California misdemeanor offense:
A penalty fine reaching $1,000
A prison time in a county jail of up to one (1) year
For a California felony offense:
A penalty fine reaching $5,000
Imprisonment in a California state prison of up to three (3) years
HOW CAN I CONVINCE THE COURT TO RELEASE ME FROM JAIL WITHOUT BAIL?
A defendant will need to establish the following before the court grants them an O.R. release:
You promise to appear in court hearings: Attendance in a court-mandated hearing is a necessary condition following an O.R. release. You must pledge to attend all court hearings and acknowledge the penalties if you fail to follow through.
You promise not to compromise public safety: You must establish to the judge that you will not threaten the public’s safety. Before granting release, you need to show that you are not a high-risk individual.
You committed a low-level offense: Most first-time offenders and misdemeanor defendants are granted release by the court.
You do not have existing or previous felony offenses: The court will also evaluate your previous records. Your chances of obtaining an O.R. release are slimmer if you have prior felonies.
Recommendations of a probation officer: A recommendation from probation officers will improve your chances of receiving an O.R. release.
CAN A LAWYER HELP REDUCE OR REMOVE BAIL BOND FEES?
Your Summit Defense attorney will make a strong argument that might save you thousands of dollars in bail bond fees. Our first priority when clients are in custody is to do everything legally possible to secure their release quickly and with the least cost to our clients.
ARE YOU CHARGED WITH A CRIME? CONTACT US TO SPEAK WITH A CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER FOR FREE
Facing criminal charges is a challenging situation for everyone. If you are battling against these charges and would like to be released from jail without seeing a judge, we can help you.
Our criminal defense lawyers at the Summit Defense Law Firm are experienced and esteemed professionals. We handled countless similar cases in the past. Establishing a solid legal defense and an effective negotiation are keys to a successful criminal case.
At Summit Defense, we aim to build a solid attorney-client relationship where our clients can freely share their side of the story with confidentiality.
With over 120 years of cumulative and exclusive Criminal Defense experience, our reputation for aggressive and results oriented performance, whether in State court or Federal Court, has been documented by several Bay Area news channels and vetted by hundreds of satisfied clients. Our success and industry recognition is the result of our EXCLUSIVE FOCUS on criminal defense; we don’t accept personal injury or family law cases. This single-minded focus allows us to keep pace with the ever-changing landscape of legal doctrine and provide you with the best results possible.