Any crime that ends in the arrest of a person is serious in one way or another. A few of these crimes require the state to hold a person in jail while awaiting trial in the interest of public safety, but the vast majority of crime does not fall into this category. San Bernardino County, just like every other county in California, has a way to weed through these differences in offenses. It would cost the county far too much to house every defendant for the two days it usually takes to stand before a judge for a bail hearing.
Each county has a bail schedule that allows most offenders to get out of jail before ever seeing a judge. The bail amounts for this offense can be very high, but all defendants can contact one of three San Bernardino County Bail Hotline locations to determine whether or not they are eligible to be released – and for how much less their bond can be achieved.
Definition of a Bail Schedule
Bail schedules are legal documents put forth by the Superior Court in each California county, that list almost every crime that could be committed and a corresponding preset bail amount. This means the accused can either pay the full amount or have a bail bond agency get them out for a fraction of that fee. Many people choose to wait for their bail hearing, either out of ignorance of the law or in hope that their bail amount will be lowered. It is true that judges have the option to reduce a specific bail amount, but this usually only happens after the accused has been in a county jail’s general population for a few days. Unfortunately, the courts can also increase these bail amounts once the defendant gets in front of a judge, so it is a gamble either way.
Crimes Listed on the Schedule
The list of crimes in San Bernardino County’s bail schedule is nearly exhaustive, and there are even instructions on bail amounts for crimes that aren’t included on the list. A crime that carries a maximum jail time of six months, for example, will require a $5,000 dollar bail. Other crimes carry stiffer penalties. Cultivating or processing peyote, for example, will require a $25,000 dollar bail amount. Doctors in the county can even face stiff penalties – any doctor who writes an unnecessary prescription for a controlled substance will face a bail amount of $25,000. Though these penalties seem stiff, they are not the worst that could happen.
There are charges that have bail amounts intentionally so steep that it is quite obvious the county is making every effort to keep the accused in jail. If a person were to kidnap another for the purpose of ransom they would face a bail amount of one million dollars. Using an explosive device with the intent to kill another also brings with it a one million dollar bail amount. Some crimes, on the other hand, are so intense that the county will not allow bail. Using force to escape from prison is unbailable, as is a murder with special circumstances – both require the accused to wait in jail until their trial.
San Bernardino County takes crime and the safety of its residents very seriously. The most dangerous offenders do not have the option to get out on bail, and even lesser offenses often carry bail amounts high enough to prevent dangerous felons from getting back out onto the street. Fortunately, the county recognizes that not all crimes reach this magnitude and most offenders are allowed to get out of jail before seeing a judge, which lets them return to job and family while the county saves money on their room and board in the meantime.
Click here to download a pdf of San Bernardino’s 2012 Bail Schedule.