Archive for the ‘Bail Bonds News’ Category

Die Bill, Die!

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

Die Bill, Die! No silly, I’m not proposing to murder someone named William. I’m referring to California Senate Bill 10, affectionately known as SB10, which is attempting to eliminate bail and bondsman as an industry throughout the state.

Last we checked it was sent to Appropriations for further study. As of September 6, 2017, several amendments to the original bill were added and it was sent back to Appropriations. Sheesh, can’t they just let this thing die?

We’ve talked about this in past blog posts here. You only have to look at New Jersey’s current state of affairs regarding repeat criminal offenders to see the results of eliminating bail.
A New Jersey Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak wrote an impassion letter to the members of the California assembly public safety Committee before their hearing on July 11, 2017 on SB10. It was sent to every member, describing the failure of the elimination of bail in his state. Senator Robert Hertzberg, one of the authors of SB10 advised the members of the committee to ignore the letter and that New Jersey was actually saving money under the bail elimination process (talk about fake news!).

New Jersey Judge Glenn Grant was quoted as saying “[the new system]does not eliminate the risk that
defendants will fail to appear in court or commit new crimes while out on release.

One of the supposed reasons for the bill is that bail bonds as they exist in their current form are discriminatory toward minorities. Let’s listen to the words of Rev. Jesse Lee Petersen, an African American who testified in front of the Assembly Public Safety Commission regarding the consequences of passing SB10:

“In the Assembly Public Safety Committee, the authors of Senate Bill 10 – State Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) – spoke about the need to eliminate a paid bail system. While I couldn’t believe what was coming out of their mouths, I was even more disturbed by what wasn’t said.
In the “People’s House,” Hertzberg and Bonta described the arrested, charged, bailed and those sitting in jail as the victims of our society, and the rest of us law-abiding citizens as the oppressors. In their version of the world, the authors infer that the police, prosecutors and judges are intentionally limiting the freedoms of our poor minority communities. Given this faulty premise, they hold up SB 10 as some sort of heaven-sent solution, which in reality will automatically release the vast majority of those arrested for crimes back into our communities.
In “my house” we don’t have gated communities. Our windows have bars on them – not for decoration, but protection. In “my house,” crime is rampant. It is a place where people are afraid to report crimes, even when they know the perpetrator, because of the reprisal from the local gangs. In “my house,” it is a struggle just to survive.
In “my house” there are over 450 active gangs, with a combined membership of 45,000 individuals. In “my house” there are 900 rapes, 40,000 thefts, 8,200 burglaries, and 140 yearly homicide cases. “
Rev. Petersen lives in Los Angeles, but the numbers ( more about skewed/inflated numbers in a bit) are the same for many counties and cities throughout California: since the passage of Prop. 47, crime is on the rise. ” (something else we’ve talked about here) As he further points out:
“It was very clear to me that the chair and members of the committee have lost touch with the gritty reality of our communities. You can’t just read a book, article, or statistics and understand what is happening on the streets of our black and Hispanic neighborhoods. You need to live it and be around it to know the struggles are real.
Missing from Hertzberg and Bonta’s speeches were the voices of the rape victims, the burglarized, the bullied and the intimidated. They ignore the concerns of the good and decent Hispanics and black folk trying to stay safe in high-crime neighborhoods. The people being released from jail won’t be going back into Hertzberg and Bonta’s neighborhoods, they will be returning to “my house.”

SB 10 was approved by the committee, because in the “People’s House,” our jails are filled with poor people who are only victims. Yet in “my house,” the communities are filled with people who commit crimes, who then get out of incarceration and then threaten the already frayed fabric of our inner cities.

SB 10 may make our detached legislators feel good. But rather than addressing true racial inequalities, including the disproportionate criminal victimization of innocent people, this misguided and simplistic measure only perpetuates hopelessness and the deterioration of minority neighborhoods in urban California.”

A study was conducted In 2012 by the ACLU for L.A County’s jail system. (The numbers in 2017 are vastly different). The study showed 87% of the Pre-Trial Arrestees in custody were due to “non-financial holds.” Only 13% are in custody because they cannot afford their bail. L.A. County Sheriff’s Custody Report released in 2016 shows less than 5% are in jail for misdemeanor low level crimes and remain in custody possibly due to inability to purchase a bail bond. As we’ve stated here on our website and in previous blog posts, Orange County Bail Bonds is always willing to work with our clients to offer the best rates available and financing if necessary where appropriate.

New Jersey’s new system determines risk assessment by a computer driven algorithm (wow, really?) which has allowed those committing serious felonies to be released into the community to commit new crimes with no guarantee that they will even show up for their court appearances.

Below is a list of names and phone numbers of committee members. If your public safety is a concern for yourself and your families, we encourage you to call and make your concerns known. They may not want to acknowledge it, but they are your public servants, elected to represent your best interests.
ASSEMBLY APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (Chair) (916) 319-2080
Frank Bigelow (916) 319-2005
Richard Bloom (916) 319-2050
Raul Bocanegra (916) 319-2039
Rob Bonta (916) 319-2018
William P. Brough (916) 319-2073
Ian C. Calderon (916) 319-2057
Ed Chau (916) 319-2049
Susan Talamantes Eggman (916) 319-2013
Vince Fong (916) 319-2034
Laura Friedman (916) 319-2043
James Gallagher (916) 319-2003
Eduardo Garcia (916) 319-2056
Adam C. Gray (916) 319-2021
Al Muratsuchi (916) 319-2066
Jay Obernolte (916) 319-2033
Eloise Gomez Reyes (916) 319-2047

Cuban Bail

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

Just got back from a ten day trip to Havana,Cuba. Going in I wasn’t sure what to expect,  I sorta had a vision of a strict depressing atmosphere somewhat like Romania or another Communist bloc country. I knew the climate would be pleasant, I lived in Puerto Rico for many years, another Caribbean island with a Spanish speaking population. I have to say that my opinion of Cuba was completely changed by my visit there.

Yes, there’s poverty to a large extent, but the average citizen is not resigned, nor sad, but content with Cuban life. Nobody goes without food or shelter, one of the pluses of a Communist government. The shortage of goods is due to Cuba being an island, almost everything needs to be imported. That doesn’t affect other islands in the area as much as Cuba, the difference here is the fifty plus years of a blockade in place by the United States. One of the biggest surprises to me was the fact that Cubans are allowed bail.

Say you have a fender bender with another car. If you can work it out between yourselves, there’s no need for the police to be involved. The problem arises, much like anywhere else in the world, when one person either can’t or won’t pay for inflicted damages.

I noticed that motorcycle cops didn’t chase drivers and pull them over. What they did was call ahead to the next officer usually stationed within the next kilometer or so and relay the car’s information. The advanced cop would pull the car over and ticket or arrest the car based on the first officer’s details. Less risk of accidents due to high speed chases I guess.

Bail is allowed for felony cases. According to Cuban law, a crime is defined as something prohibited by law and is harmful or dangerous to society. If a violation doesn’t meet the criteria of “socially dangerous” it’s considered to be a non criminal citation( like a traffic ticket). Felonies are crimes with a possible sentence of more than a year. Felonies are crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, car theft, assault and battery, drug dealing arrests, arson, vehicular homicide or injury, and burglary. These types of crimes ( especially murder, rape, or robbery) are subject to pre-trial incarceration as well as suspects of multiple offenses, or those considered flight risks. Misdemeanors however,  are usually not required to post bail nor subject to pre-trial detention, except as mentioned above.

Bail is paid directly to the state. In other words, there is no equivalent to a bail bondsman as we think of one in the US. Bail is secured based on the relative severity of the crime,with the accused released to the security of an employer, a union  or other state recognized organization, or possibly o.r. ( own recognizance). Many criminal cases are resolved using a day fine system. Article 35 of the Criminal Code (1987)protects defendants from excessive fines. The fine is calculated using a day rate (from a minimum of 50 cents to a maximum of $20) with the court taking into consideration the time of arrest and detention, the defendant’s earning, costs of living and the defendant’s number of dependents. An installment plan is also a permitted option.

Cuban law mandates that an accused person can’t be kept in custody for longer than 24 hours without their case being turned over to an investigator. The investigator then has three days to turn the case over to a prosecutor. That prosecutor then has three more days to either release the accused or turn the case over to a court that will review it. The court is  then required to either approve release or order continued detention, again within three days. You can see that the days start adding up, making a strong case for posting bail.

Going to trial in Cuba is similar to the process in the United States, with a few important exceptions. First, while a defendant has the right to an attorney, private attorneys are not allowed. Cubans have the right to have Spanish-speaking legal counsel from a nationwide system of law collectives at state set fees.

Ironic, that Fidel Castro, a former attorney abolished private practice of law, instead encouraging youth to pursue careers in science, engineering, and medicine. The Revolution emphasized other academic skills to the detriment of law study at the University of Havana’s College of Law. From 1964-1965 there were no new enrollments, and in 1978-1979 there were no law students graduating.

Second, while a defendant is presumed innocent until,proven guilty, he or she has no right to a trial by jury. Usually the defendant is the first person called to testify, although they may refuse if they don’t want to. ( kinda like pleading the Fifth Amendment?)

Yes, the accused has the right to a fair trial, but instead of a jury of one’s peers, a trial is presided over by a panel of three to five judges. The same panel of judges that hears testimony and determines guilt or innocence also imposes sentences. Sentences encompass a range from execution( for extreme cases like murder, child murder, and or treason), jail time, correctional work farms, probation, or fines. There have been examples of sentences of 15 to 20 years for murder, or 2 to 5 years for crimes like sling in foreign currency or burglary. Sometimes a misdemeanor can be charged more than the the usual one year or less; a simple drug possession charge could conceivably receive a defendant up to two years. A taxi driver told me that “you kill your mother in law, you get 5 years. You kill a cow, you get 8 years.”  He meant it as a joke, but certain crimes, considered offenses against the state include slaughter and distribution of livestock (beef) outside the socialist system of distribution. You don’t see a lot of beef being consumed in Cuba. The government controls much of the dairy and beef production, some private farmers are allowed to raise beef, but by law, they can only sell beef from cows that have died or been killed accidentally. This of course leads to a black market for beef, so unless a restaurant is government owned, and thus allowed to sell beef, what they are selling is illegal, and therefore highly expensive.

Within the Cuban legal system there is no alternative to formal criminal proceedings in court. The decision of the judiciary panel is final, there is no chance for appeal.

Is it a crime to be poor? (We don’t think so)

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Is it a crime to be poor?   by Scott Miner

Lightnin’ Hopkins, the most heavily recorded blues musician once wrote a song entitled “It’s a sin to be rich, it’s a low-down shame to be poor”.

The United States Justice Department recently issued a ruling stating that holding defendants in jail is unconstitutional based on the fact that they can’t afford to make bail. The court filing said that it is a violation of the US Constitution Fourteenth Amendment. This is the first time the government has taken a position like this before a federal appeals court.

It’s the latest step by the current presidential administration in encouraging state courts to distance themselves from the process of mandating fixed cash bail amounts with the result of jailing those who are unable to pay.

The Department stated in a friend of the court brief that bail bond customs that end up jailing persons unable to pay for pretrial release is where the violation of the Fourteenth Amendment comes from, citing the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection

The filing came in the case of Maurice Walker of Calhoun, Georgia. He was kept in jail for six nights after police arrested him for the misdemeanor offense of being a pedestrian under the influence. He was told he could not get out of jail unless he paid the fixed bail amount of $160.

The Department’s civil rights attorneys stated that courts need to consider a person’s indigence and search for other ways of guaranteeing an attendance for a court date. They felt that set bail schedules that permit the pretrial release of only those who can afford to pay, without taking into consideration an individual’s ability to pay unlawfully discriminates against destitute members of society.

Many civil rights advocates have accused local judges of operating modern-day debtor’s prisons (which were banned under Federal law in 1833. The Fourteenth Amendment affirmed the unconstitutionality of the practice in 1983). There are examples of these types of abuses alive and well in today’s society, due to the rise of private probation companies, like Judicial Correction Services.

A woman in Illinois was arrested and taken to jail because she owed a debt related to an unpaid medical bill. Unbeknownst to her, a collection agency had filled a lawsuit against her, and never having received the appearance notice, missed her court date.

Another woman in Alabama spent seven weeks in her local county jail without ever appearing in court. Her crime was a failure to pay the monthly fees mailed to her by the aforementioned Judicial Correction Services.

Until recently, the effort to help the indigent in the question of excessive bail and sentences was led by organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Human Rights Watch. They’ve sued courts around the country in an effort to force reforms. But the recent filing from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has put chief justices and court administrators on notice that the Feds are joining the fight. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has made a priority of fighting what she calls “the criminalization of poverty”.

A statement from the ACLU’s racial justice program said “The DOJ is sending a strong message that judges should voluntarily comply and examine closely their policies before they get in trouble.”

It’s a rare move on the Court’s part, because it tries to change policies in courts it does not control. The efforts began with the Civil Rights Division’s looking into Ferguson, Missouri, lately a powder keg of racially related events. Investigators found a court system that emphasized revenue over justice, forcing people into debt (and jail), with blacks bearing a disproportionate burden. The filing reminds judges that it’s illegal to jail people because they cannot pay a fine, a protection safeguarded by Supreme Court decisions.

Back to the case of Maurice Walker: a federal judge in January ruled in Walker’s favor, ordering the city to allow those arrested on misdemeanor offenses be released on their own recognizance (aka “o.r.”) and to make other changes in its post-arrest procedures.

Appealing that order, the city said the preset amounts of the city’s bail schedule are tied to the seriousness of each offense and are specifically allowed under Georgia law.

“A system of unsecured recognizance bonds,” the city said in its appeal,” greatly reduces the incentive for defendants to appear.”

The city is supported by the Georgia Sheriff’s Association and by a group representing the nation’s bail bondsmen. They argue that the Constitution does not guarantee bail, it only bans excessive bail.

“It thus simply cannot be that any defendant arrested for any crime must be immediately released based on a bare assertion of indigence,” the group said in its court filing.

Barry J. Pollack, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense lawyers, said Friday said he applauded the Justice Department’s for making “critically important arguments.”

A spokesman for the defense lawyers group said it believes “pretrial liberty must be the norm and detention prior to trial the carefully limited exception.

An argument can be made for pretrial set bail schedules in that bail is not just for the accused as much as it is for victims, society and the interest of justice. Yes, mistakes can happen, but the catalyst for an arrest is usually probable cause, so therefore, at face value, defensible.

An accused person has a right to a reasonable bail (the key word here is reasonable, the preceding argument being against excessive or unaffordable bail). Society has the right to know that an accused person will show up for trial. History has shown that the most effective way to insure that someone shows up for a court appearance is a fully guaranteed bail bond written by a licensed bail bondsman. An unsecured release, as proposed by the Court’s filing is unenforceable. With absolutely nothing to lose, why would any accused person show up for a court appearance? Only commercial bail bonds guarantee an appearance in court or payment of the full bail amount if an offender fails to appear.

Here at Orange County Bail Bonds, we of course believe in the effectiveness of bail, but have always been willing to work with all our clients in tailoring bail bonds payment options to accommodate any and all economic situations. (see our YouTube video on financing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcXTLB2iqSM  as well as the blog post here from June 14th regarding financing)

Bail or Jail for the Blade Runner

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

Oscar Pistorius also known as “Blade Runner” because of his accomplishments as the first double leg amputee to participate in the Summer Olympics, was charged with the premeditated murder of Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day this year. His daily court appearances before a South African magistrate displayed the emotional impact and toll to all parties involved, including a stunned following who celebrated the determined athlete during the Olympics. Yet, just as stunned were the fans who embraced his reality show girlfriend for her beauty and charm.

South Africa and the United States have two different justice systems, yet when the chief magistrate granted Pistorius bail of 1 million rand or $113,000 in US Dollars, the decision showed a fundamental value that many countries hold regarding bail. The magistrate said Pistorius also must hand over his passports and turn in any other guns that he owns. Pistorius cannot leave the district of Pretoria without the permission of his probation officer. Nor can he take drugs or drink alcohol.

South Africa’s court system takes root in Roman-Dutch law. Defendants have no option of a jury trial, which is common in the United States and other countries. A single judge hears the entire case and then rules on a person’s guilt or innocence. The judge can be assisted by two advisers who can offer assistance in viewing the more technical aspects of the evidence during the trial. If found guilty, a person can later appeal the ruling or sentence. South Africa abolished the jury system in the 1930s because of racial politics. Only white people were allowed to sit on juries and there was no hope of black defendants being given a fair trial.

In the U.S., the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, much like the English Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, requires that a suspect must “be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation.” This allows a suspect to demand bail if accused of a bailable offense. Bail laws vary somewhat from state to state, but generally, a person charged with a non-capital crime is presumptively entitled to be granted bail. Some states have enacted statutes modeled on federal law that permit pretrial detention of people charged with serious violent offenses, if it can be demonstrated that the defendant is a flight risk or a danger to the community.

For all the sensationalism the “Blade Runner” case has generated, and no doubt will continue to generate, it must not be forgotten bail is a highly sought prize not only in court cases in the United States, but around the world. The pre-bail experience can be troublesome to anyone. No matter who the accused is, there is a constant need for a support system through legal assistance and a qualified bondsman. This is especially true in the U.S. where bail bondsmen have worked for years to professionally serve and deliver for their clients.

Whatever we take away from the “Blade Runner” case, we should realize the court system can be a lonely place for the famous and unknown. We should remember legal proceedings are hardly a big show, much less in a heart-wrenching case.

War on Public Safety and The Bail Industry

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

The Justice Policy Institute (JPI) has declared a War on Public Safety by going after the commercial bail system. Bail is an Eight Amendment right which protects the “innocent until proven guilty” from being held in custody, on excessive bail, prior to trial. JPI suggestions sound very altruistic and “warm and fuzzy”, but the truth is that their plan will put more and more of the public in danger from the criminal element, while costing U.S. Tax Payers millions of more dollars; at a time when our governments are already near, if not in, bankruptcy!

Dr. Dennis A. Bartlett, Executive Director of the American Bail Coalition has summarized this attack, exposing the lies and misrepresentations of the JPI claims:

There is  a war being waged on the criminal justice system.  This is a war being funded by government agencies on the bail industry. A war being waged with taxpayer dollars against the bail industry that produces  revenue for states and local communities.  A war being waged that adversely impacts our communities’ public safety interests.

  • Did you know that violent career criminals are being released from jail on nothing but a promise to return for their court dates?
  • Did you know that your tax dollars are used to fund these releases? 
  • Did you know that almost 30% of those people released on a “promise” never show up to court? 
  • Did you know that no one goes after those people to bring them back? 
  • Did you know that the only way these persons are returned to custody is when they are ultimately re- arrested for additional crimes…thus creating another crime victim in the process?
  • Did you know that there is a method of pretrial release that doesn’t cost taxpayers anything? 
  • Did you know that there is a method of pretrial release that ensures that 99% of those released make it to court…and that for those who do not make it to court, it pays a financial penalty to the county?

If you answered “No” to any of the above questions, then you will want to read the following document. Over the past few months, The Justice Policy Institute has released two separate whitepapers designed to criticize and attack the commercial bail bonding industry, or “Money Bail” system as they refer to it. Both of these so called “research” documents are not only riddled with anti-bail propaganda, but also are filled with misinformation, unchecked facts and baseless claims against private businesses. Even simple things like the names and locations of specific counties are misrepresented (i.e., Broward County Texas…there is no such county). In response, the American Bail Coalition (ABC) thought it important to clarify and correct the many misrepresentations found in these publications. This document is a critical analysis of the two JPI whitepapers. It points out the many deceptions being promulgated by JPI, and also provides real facts, quotes and statistics that support the existence of commercial bail bonding as the most effective form of pretrial release. We have identified 18 key deceptions in the JPI documents. Each of these deceptions is identified and responded to with what we call a “Bail Truth.” Also provided at the end of this document, as an Appendix, is a list of questions that every citizen, county commissioner, judge, law enforcement official, legislator, etc. should be asking about their county’s Pretrial Service Agency. From the risk assessment methodology they say is being used to how their performance is measured, we think that every taxpayer and community member has the right to know these things. More Information on the  War on Public Safety from the  American Bail Coalition