Law enforcement reality television shows have some of the highest ratings of all the choices available. Some of the most popular, though, are the shows that portray suspects fleeing in vehicles to elude the police. This may seem like good entertainment, but the ‘reality’ is that these individuals are committing a very serious crime. California has a relatively large problem with people running from the police, so the state treats this crime rather harshly – a good reason to know what the charge really entails and why understanding the bail process can be crucial.
It’s unlikely that any adult over the legal drinking age doesn’t know that driving under the influence is both dangerous and illegal, yet there are still around 1.4 million arrests yearly related to the crime. California treats the crime relatively harsh when compared with most other states, and a conviction can actually land a person in jail for years under the worst of circumstances. This is why it’s imperative for anyone charged with DUI in California to understand what they’re up against.
Most people don’t look at traffic violations as seriously as they do most other criminal acts. In reality, it’s because traffic violations don’t often involve any illegal act against another person or their property. It is important to note, however, that in California, some violations of the vehicle code can be treated just as seriously as other seemingly more egregious violations. Driving with a suspended or revoked license is definitely fits the bill.
There are certain crimes for which an individual can claim ignorance; a person who buys a stereo that turns out to be stolen, for instance, may have had no intention of committing the crime of receiving stolen property. When it comes to driving under the influence, however, a person would be hard-pressed to convince a jury that they didn’t know what they were doing. Unfortunately for many individuals, it’s not even necessary to fail a breathalyzer to be convicted.
Being involved in an auto accident isn’t something that people plan on when they start their day. Unfortunately, since statistics show that the average driver will file an auto accident claim once every 17.9 years, it’s obvious that most of us will be involved in one at some point in our lives. Most accidents don’t often involve serious criminal charges, but in California, if a person decides to flee the scene of an accident, they can face very detrimental consequences.
Everyone likely remembers driving around town in their very first car, cruising around, showing it off, and feeling the freedom. Joyriding used to mean just driving to drive, with no destination in mind, windows rolled down, checking out the local girls or guys. When it comes to California law, however, joyriding means something else altogether and it can end with serious criminal charges and penalties.
Getting arrested for just about any crime in California can be detrimental. The bail amounts set for many crimes are so high that most people would be unable to post them on their own. Luckily, there are bail bond agencies which can actually secure an individual’s release, and state law sets a maximum fee of no greater than 10 percent of the face bail amount.
Unfortunately, some individuals either accidentally or willfully miss their mandatory court dates, and this can lead to serious issues for both the suspect and the company which put up the surety bond.
What is Bail Bond Forfeiture?
Bail bond forfeiture can only occur after an individual has been released from jail on a bond, in order to await their court date. This release is often a privilege, since judges don’t always have to grant bail if they suspect a person poses a flight risk. When an individual doesn’t appear for a pre-scheduled court date, this is when the bail bond forfeiture actually occurs. The court proceeds to forfeit the bond and a warrant is placed out for the suspect.
There are a series of complex rules and consequences for all parties involved when a person fails to appear for a scheduled court date. Courts often understand that accidents and mistakes happen, and they won’t always be harsh if an individual has a valid excuse for their absence and notices the court promptly. This doesn’t mean, however, that a person shouldn’t know all of the consequences involved with missing a court date—including the possibility of a bounty hunter getting involved at some point.
Consequences for the Bondsman
A bail bond company, unlike an individual who pays their own bail, does not have to provide the full amount of bail up front. In fact, they usually just sign off on the fact that the suspect will appear for all of their court dates. When the suspect misses even one, however, the court will likely order a forfeiture of the bond. This basically means that the bondsman will receive a letter demanding full payment of the bail amount.
This can be a serious loss for a bail bond agency. These companies don’t specialize in paying full bail amounts. They provide a service that basically allows them to levy the courts’ trust in them to secure the release of an alleged offender. In most cases, if the defendant isn’t in police custody or court within 180 days of the mailing of the aforementioned letter, the bail agency will have to pay the full bail amount to the courts.
Consequences for the Defendant
In addition, a person who fails to show up for their court date may face “failure to appear” charges. This is much like a contempt of court charge, and the person will then have to answer for the consequences of their initial crime plus the failing to appear charge. This often results in more severe penalties, but in addition, the court will be far less likely to grant this person bail in this case or for any in the future. Add this to the constant looking over of one’s shoulder for bounty hunters and detectives, and the seemingly easy act of skipping bail pales in comparison to the end convictions.
Failing to appear is a serious offense in California, and the simple fact is that it will usually result in more serious charges for an alleged offender than they were initially facing in the first place. Unfortunately, these negative consequences can also financially hurt a bail bond agency. The best thing that anyone out on bail can do is to show up for all of their court cases, and if they have to miss one, getting in touch with their bail bond agent quickly is imperative. If not, the next few months of a person’s life will likely far surpass any initial consequences.
California is undoubtedly one of the most liberal states in America when it comes to the use of marijuana. Though certain possession charges only amount to an infraction under state law, California still considers it a serious offense to cultivate marijuana. Unless a person has a legal right to do so—such as is the case with medical marijuana users—the penalties for illegally cultivating the drug can be quite serious.
California law is pretty specific when it comes to the cultivation of marijuana: it is a felony to grow marijuana. For this crime to be proven, an individual must have planted, cultivated, dried and processed marijuana. The penalties can vary significantly when a person is charged with this crime, depending on their intended use.
An individual who is simply growing marijuana for personal use is often eligible for a diversion program. An alternative to pleading guilty, a formal diversion creates an arrangement which would include programs based upon drug treatment rather than punishments; such as Prop 36 and drug courts. Dismissing of the charges might result from the agreement by the judge and prosecutor, or in some cases from the completion of certain programs.
For those who might regularly partake in this drug, one plant is often not enough to support that habit ; luring people to have several plants for just their private use. Unfortunately, police and prosecutors will often take the existence of numerous plants as evidence that a person intended to sell the drug, and this can lead to much more severe consequences.
Corresponding Bail Amounts
The potential penalties from cultivating marijuana are set forth by the state, but California does allow its counties to set their own bail amounts; this creates quite a variance from one part of the state to another. In Orange County, for instance, an individual may face a $20,000 bail amount if arrested for growing less than 25 lbs. of marijuana. However, this amount jumps to $50,000, if anything over twenty-five pounds are harvested.
In Los Angeles County, a person also faces $50,000 if cultivating over 25 lbs. If this amount is under one pound, however, bail is set at only $10,000. In Sacramento County, though, a person’s bail will be $10,000 for harvesting up to two pounds. All of those far surpass Santa Cruz County, however, which only sets bail at $2,500. Bail Hotline provides payment plans for posting your bond, at a mere fraction of the actual bail face amount.
Penalties for Cultivating Marijuana
The penalties for cultivating marijuana are amongst the most straight forward for any crime in California. Anyone convicted of this act can face up to three years in a California state penitentiary. As mentioned, a judge may consider a diversion program, but this is only in very specific circumstances.
It’s also important to point out that a judge may grant an individual probation, but this may still have its own dire consequences. If probation is granted, a person will likely remain on it for three years and may still have to serve an entire year in a California jail. This will also likely include hefty fines paid to the court and a probation officer, and could impact your current or future employment.
It’s true that California is one of the most accepting states in the Union when it comes to marijuana. This doesn’t mean, however, that an individual can do whatever they want with the drug. Cultivating the marijuana plant is a serious felony, and since there’s no definitive amount which constitutes “personal use,” an individual can face detrimental consequences even if they were actually growing it just for themselves.
The War on Drugs has long villainized the use of any substance that is considered illegal. While legal statutes are slowly evolving which decriminalize certain uses of marijuana, it’s important to note that federally, and even in California, it is usually illegal to use the substance. In fact, it’s illegal to even possess this drug without a legal right to do so; such as for prescribed medicinal purposes, in all of California. This is why it is important to clearly understand what is meant by the crime of personal possession of marijuana.
Who can be Charged with Personal Possession?
A personal possession of marijuana charge is one of the most straightforward charges that the state can bring against a person. The state simply has to prove that a person knowingly had possession of marijuana and that they knew that it was a drug. On top of these requirements, the state must also show that the amount of the drug possessed was sufficient to actually be used as a drug.
Luckily for many individuals, a small amount of residual marijuana isn’t likely enough to meet the aforementioned element of evidence. Residual amounts of marijuana only prove that a person used the drug previously; there must be enough of the drug left for it to still be used in the manner it was intended for a conviction to be attained.
Bail Amounts after Arrest
California sets forth the punishments related to personal possession of marijuana, but each individual county is able to set forth its own bail amounts which are defined within their bail bond schedules. These schedules have bail amounts listed for just about anything that a person could be charged with. Since each locality determines their own schedule, California’s county bail amounts vary widely.
In Sacramento County, the bail amount for personal possession of marijuana is set at a hefty $3,000. In Santa Cruz County, on the other hand, this amount drops to $1,000. An individual who manages to get arrested for possession in Los Angeles County, however, will only face a $500 bail amount; and this amount drops to only $35 if the amount possessed is less than 28.5 grams.
Penalties for Conviction
Due to a California law passed in early 2011, having less than one ounce of marijuana is considered an infraction and only punishable by a fine of $100. A person may face higher fines, however, and even jail time if they have possession of concentrated cannabis or they have these substances on school property during school hours.
Those convicted of having over an ounce of marijuana that is not concentrated cannabis will face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500. For those with concentrated cannabis, however, these penalties can become much more serious. A conviction of personally possessing concentrated cannabis can land a person in jail for up to a year if charged as a misdemeanor, and this term can jump up to three years if charged as a felony.
Personal possession of marijuana can lead to serious consequences for those convicted of the crime. This conviction can lead to long term repercussions from having a criminal conviction on one’s record, but it’s even possible for an individual to face serious prison time after their first conviction. This is why it is so essential for anyone charged with the crime to understand their rights and potential defenses.
There aren’t likely many individuals in California who do not know that possessing drugs is a serious offense that can result in severe consequences. What many people may not know, however, is that simply possessing the items used for the consumption of certain drugs can be treated as a criminal offense. This crime is known as possession of drug paraphernalia, and if convicted, an individual may end up with a punishment viewed as excessive by many.
What is Possession of Drug Paraphernalia?
Drug paraphernalia involves any equipment, product, or material that is modified for making, using, or concealing drugs—typically for recreational purposes—and merely being in control of these items is a violation of California’s Health and Safety Code. The law strictly says that it’s illegal to possess drug paraphernalia, and it goes on to state that these types of items include anything used in the smoking or injecting of unlawful controlled substances. It should be noted that syringes used for medically prescribed purposes do not fall under this statute.
The prosecution must prove that a person had control over, or simply the right to control, the paraphernalia when arrested. In addition, it must be proven that the individual knew the item was drug paraphernalia and also knew that they had control over the item. Items used for marijuana use are exempted from this law and handled under other statutes.
Bail Amounts for Possessing Drug Paraphernalia
Though the State of California sets forth the punishments related to all crimes committed within its borders, it does allow individual counties to set forth their own bail amounts; each county lists these amounts in their bail schedule. Individuals who can either pay the face amount, or have Bail Hotline post the bond for a fraction of that cost, can be released from jail instead of waiting in custody for their court date.
The bail amounts for possessing drug paraphernalia can vary greatly. In Los Angeles, for instance, bail is set at $250 after a drug paraphernalia possession arrest. It’s important to note, however, that many bail schedules don’t even list a bail amount for possessing drug paraphernalia. This doesn’t mean, though, that there is no set measure. In Orange County, for instance, the bail schedule states that any misdemeanor charge that isn’t listed will have a bail amount of $500.
Punishments for Drug Paraphernalia Possession
The potential repercussions for a conviction of this magnitude are pretty straightforward. Those who are convicted are guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to up to six months in jail. In addition to this, a person may also face a $1,000 fine for their possession of these particular items. Many think this is a bit excessive for merely having certain equipment, but these punishments have long been set forth by the state.
In addition, individuals with California professional licenses, such as a teaching license, may be put on automatic leave until the situation has been resolved. This means that an individual in this position could face the loss of their job in addition to the aforementioned penalties.
While the punishments for possessing drug paraphernalia may seem excessive to some, this doesn’t mean that the California criminal justice system is going to go easy on a person convicted of the crime. Anyone facing these types of charges has a few important decisions to make, and an individual who gets help from an attorney is much more likely to have a good outcome from their case.