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Warrants

Arrest warrants are issued for several reasons, but the most common reason is that a prosecutor has presented an affidavit to a judge and the judge is convinced that there is probable cause to arrest a person.

An arrest warrant can also be issued if you have failed to appear in court or to complete a court ordered activity or program. These warrants, typically referred to as bench warrants, can often be cleared by the defense attorney without the defendant coming to court.

If you suspect that an arrest warrant has been issued for your arrest, contact me and let’s discuss the best way to clear the warrant. Even on very serious cases, we have been successful in clearing warrants while keeping the client out of jail on his own recognizance — and with no bail posted!

Bail

Bail is simply a way to guarantee that a defendant comes to court to address his case. Bail is not meant to be a punishment, and in setting bail the court should only consider two factors: danger to the community, and risk of flight. Generally speaking, the less serious the offense, the lower the bail; the more serious the offense, the higher the bail. This is why high profile violent crimes often have multi-million dollar bails.

Should you post bail for a friend or family member? This is a very difficult question to answer, and depends on a number of facts. If your friend or loved one is not working and if the charges are very serious (and the bail very high), it might make more sense to let him stay in custody until his defense attorney has had an opportunity to seek a reduction in bail. As well, if the choice is either to post bail or hire a defense attorney, you should always choose to hire the defense attorney.

However, if the charges are relatively minor (and the bail is low), and if it is important that your friend or loved one get out of custody immediately, then do not hesitate to call a bail bondsman.

The bail agent or bondsman will charge a fee (called a “premium”) for posting the bail bond, generally 10% of the total bail amount. That fee belongs to the bail bondsman and is not returned, even if the defendant is later acquitted (cleared of all charges) or convicted and sentenced to jail.

If your defense attorney refers you to a bail agent, you can often save 20% on the bondsman’s fee. For example, if bail is set at $10,000.00, the bondsman’s fee would be $1,000.00. If your attorney refers you to a trusted bondsman, your fee with the 20% savings would be only $800.00.

Once the bail bond is posted, a friend or loved one can be released from custody within a few hours.

Early Termination of Probation

Are you on probation? Would you like to be off probation? Penal Code section 1203.3 allows you to request an early termination of probation. Generally, as long as you have completed about half the period of probation, have paid all fines and fees, and have completed any court ordered classes or activities, you can ask the court to terminate probation. Your defense attorney can make this request even if you have had some problems on probation, including probation violations or extensions.

Be aware — if you have had problems while on probation, an early termination is generally in your best interest for this one reason: if the court grants your request for an early termination of probation, you are virtually guaranteed an expungement.

Felony Reductions

Did you know that California law allows you to seek a reduction of a felony to a misdemeanor? Penal Code section 17(b) authorizes a person convicted of certain felony offenses to petition the court for a reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor. This is particularly helpful when you are seeking to have a criminal conviction expunged.

Expungements

Did you know that the California penal code allows you to request the expungement of criminal convictions? Penal Code section 1203.4 allows you to wipe the slate of any felony or misdemeanor conviction. If granted, the 1203.4 petition performs three separate actions. First, it withdraws your guilty plea. Second, it substitutes in a not guilty plea. Third, it dismisses the case.

As an added benefit of expungement, for most job applications in California you can legally state that you have not been convicted of an offense.