Receiving a call that a loved one has been arrested and is in the Ventura County Jail can be one of the most frightening and stressful moments of your life. Your first instinct may be to contact a bail bondsman to try to get your son, daughter, friend, etc. released as quickly as possible. However, this may not be in your...or his/her...best interests.
In this article, our experienced Ventura criminal defense attorneys1 will explain why by discussing the following:
If, after reading this article, you would like more information, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.
When someone is arrested in Ventura County, he/she is taken to a local police station or county jail facility for booking. "Booking" is a process that involves identifying the individual through fingerprints, taking a photograph commonly referred to as a "mug shot" and entering that individual's information into a criminal justice database.
Once this process is complete, the arrestee is held until he/she
- posts bail,
- is released on his/her own recognizance (known as an O.R. release),
- appears for his/her arraignment, or
- appears for trial.
Factors such as
- available bed space,
- the severity of the charge(s) for which the individual was arrested,
- the gender of the arrestee, and
- whether the arrestee requires medical attention
will determine where the individual is booked and housed. Options in Ventura County include
- the Ventura Pre-Trial Detention Facility,
- the Todd Road Jail (located in Santa Paula), or
- the East County Jail (located in Thousand Oaks).
Once the arrestee is booked, the crime for which the individual was arrested will dictate whether he/she
- is eligible to be released on his/her own recognizance, or
- must post bail.
"Bail" is the amount of money that a defendant (or typically someone on his/her behalf) must pay in order to be released from jail. It is intended to assure the arresting agency and court that the defendant will appear in court as expected.
Bail for an inmate arrested in Ventura County is set by the Ventura County Bail Schedule. It is determined based on the arrest charge(s).
If the defendant attends all of his/her court appearances, the bail will be returned at the end of the case. If the defendant does not attend all of those appearances, he/she forfeits that money to the court.
If the individual was arrested for a minor offense such as driving under the influence or petty theft, he/she will generally be eligible for an O.R. release. When an individual is released "O.R", it means that he/she does not have to post bail but instead simply promises to appear for his/her future court dates.
More serious offenses require bail. And some offenses are so extreme that the arrestee may not even have the option of posting bail. Under these circumstances, the individual must remain in jail until his/her case is resolved.
When an individual remains in jail...either because he/she
- is ineligible to post bail,
- cannot afford to post bail, or
- is not released on his/her own recognizance...
he/she is entitled to appear before a judge within two (2) days of his/her arrest (not including weekends or court holidays). This appearance is known as the arraignment and is the defendant's first opportunity to plead guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere "no contest" to the charge(s).
The arraignment also provides the defendant with his/her first opportunity to ask the court to reduce bail. This request triggers what is known as a bail hearing. During a bail hearing, the defense attorney asks the judge to reduce his/her client's bail based on
- his/her strong ties to the community,
- the fact that he/she doesn't pose a flight or safety risk, and
- the fact that he/she lacks a significant criminal history.
The prosecutor then has the option of challenging those arguments and asking the judge either to keep the bail at its set amount or raise the bail if he/she believes that the defendant poses a significant flight or safety risk.
Ventura County accepts bail payments in the form of
- money orders,
- credit cards, and
- bail bonds,
many of which are explained in our article How to Post Bail in California.
If you elect to post bail personally, you must post the entire bail amount...which can be quite costly. If the defendant makes all of his/her appearances, you will get your money back at the end of the criminal case, minus a small administrative fee.
But because most people do not have these financial means, bail bonds are the most common type of bail payment. You obtain a bail bond from a bail bondsman (aka a bail agent).
Bail bonds only require you to pay a nonrefundable maximum of 10% of the total bond, although the bondsman may also require you to "put up" some type of collateral, such as the deed to your home, title to your car, etc.
If the defendant makes all of his/her court appearances, you pay nothing on top of the 10%, but you do not get that 10% back...it is the bondsman's nonrefundable fee. If the inmate doesn't make those appearances, you will be liable for repaying the entire bail amount...and possibly surrendering your collateral...to the agent.
It's because of this that we say you may want to wait until you contact a skilled Ventura criminal defense attorney before you decide whether or not to post bail.
If a knowledgeable lawyer believes that he/she will be able to reduce (or even eliminate) bail during a bail hearing, you could potentially save yourself quite a bit of money since a bail agent's fee is nonrefundable.
And...as Darrell York, one of Ventura's top DUI defense attorneys explains..."If you prematurely post bail for an arrestee, he/she loses the right to appear before a judge within 48 hours. Once a defendant has posted bail, the arraignment...and therefore all further proceedings...may be postponed weeks or even months. The same holds true for bail hearings, which, once again, means that you could potentially spend quite a bit more on bail than would otherwise be necessary."
Incidents of driving under the influence account for a vast number of Ventura arrests. Most people who are arrested for simple misdemeanor drunk driving...that is, a first-time driving under the influence offense with no aggravating circumstances...will be released from jail within 24 hours. They simply must remain in custody long enough to "dry out and sober up". Bail is usually not set for these types of cases.
However, if the arrestee has one or more prior DUI arrests or there are other aggravating circumstances, such as
- a blood alcohol result of .15 or higher,2
- a refusal to submit to a chemical DUI blood or breath test3,
- driving at excessive speeds4, or
- having a child under 14 in the car5,
bail will most likely be set, and the individual will be held until he/she bails out or appears for arraignment.
Under any of these circumstances, it is important to contact a skilled Ventura DUI defense attorney as quickly as possible who can advise you as to the best course of action...not only with respect to whether to post bail but with respect to how to best defend against the charges.
Call us for help...
If you or loved one is charged with a crime and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.
1Our Ventura criminal defense attorneys' offices are located at 2625 Townsgate Road, Suite 330, Westlake Village, CA 91361. Our telephone number is (805) 648-1680. In addition, we have local law offices in Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Pomona, Torrance, Van Nuys, West Covina, and Whittier.
2California Vehicle Code 23578 -- DUI punishments. Conviction of violation of Vehicle Code 23152 or 23153; alcohol concentration or refusal to take chemical test as special factor; penalty enhancement or probation. ("In addition to any other provision of this code, if a person is convicted of a violation of VC 23152 or VC 23153, the court shall consider a concentration of alcohol in the person's blood of 0.15 percent or more, by weight, or the refusal of the person to take a chemical test, as a special factor that may justify enhancing the penalties in sentencing, in determining whether to grant probation, and, if probation is granted, in determining additional or enhanced terms and conditions of probation.")
3See same re portion on refusals to submit to chemical DUI blood or breath tests.
4California Vehicle Code 23582 -- Driving under the influence; addition penalty for excessive speed and reckless driving during commission of offense; additional punishment. ("(a) Any person who drives a vehicle 30 or more miles per hour over the maximum, prima facie, or posted speed limit on a freeway, or 20 or more miles per hour over the maximum, prima facie, or posted speed limit on any other street or highway, and in a manner prohibited by Section 23103 during the commission of a violation of Section 23152 or 23153 shall, in addition to the punishment prescribed for that person upon conviction of a violation of VC Section 23152 or 23153, be punished by an additional and consecutive term of 60 days in the county jail...")
5California Vehicle Code 23572 -- DUI sentencing. Conviction of violation of Vehicle Code 23152; minor in vehicle; enhanced punishment. ("(a) If any person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 and a minor under 14 years of age was a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the court shall impose the following penalties in addition to any other penalty prescribed: (1) If the person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 VC punishable under Section 23536, the punishment shall be enhanced by an imprisonment of 48 continuous hours in the county jail, whether or not probation is granted, no part of which shall be stayed. (2) If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 VC punishable under Section 23540, the punishment shall be enhanced by an imprisonment of 10 days in the county jail, whether or not probation is granted, no part of which may be stayed. (3) If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 punishable under Section 23546, the punishment shall be enhanced by an imprisonment of 30 days in the county jail, whether or not probation is granted, no part of which may be stayed. (4) If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 VC which is punished as a misdemeanor under Section 23550, the punishment shall be enhanced by an imprisonment of 90 days in the county jail, whether or not probation is granted, no part of which may be stayed.")