Bail Reduction While Case Pending

A key factor in defending your case is your ability to remain out of custody while the case is pending.  Bail is initially set upon arrest by the jail and corresponds to the Bail Schedule set by the county of your arrest.  This schedule will list initial bail amounts for each charge you are booked under.  For some minor offenses such as DUI or Petty Theft, the jail may decide to release you on your Own Recognizance, that is, a promise to appear.

Please note that each county has set a bail schedule for the various offenses listed.  That is, bail in Santa Clara could be higher than bail in Alameda or San Mateo.  Each county publishes the bail schedule and initial bail is usually set according to that schedule.

Courts set bail in order to assure that a criminal defendant appears in court.  In determining bail the court considers:

  • The gravity of the offense,
  • whether the defendant poses a flight risk,
  • whether the defendant poses a risk to the community.

Request to Reduce Bail

At a hearing, the defendant can argue that the initial bail set is too high.  There are several ways of doing this:

1 – the various crimes listed in the charging documents are duplicative – that is, several crimes listed for one behavior

2 – The bail is too high given defendant’s prior record, history of failures to appear

3 – The Defendant poses no flight risk given his or her ties to the community

4 – The defendant does not pose a risk to the community

A – defendant’s conduct was non violent

B – defendant’s conduct was a result of extreme circumstances

Although the court must take these argument into consideration, it is not required to reduce bail to a level a defendant can afford.


In certain circumstances, the government can and does ask the court to increase bail set by the jail per the county’s bail schedule.  This can cause a loss of large sums of funds paid to a bail-bond agent as these are non-refundable.  For example, a person may be arrested and bail set at $50,000.  Upon appearing in court, the District Attorney asks the court to increase bail given the District Attorney opted to file more serious charges than those defendant was booked under.  If the court increases bail, the defendant will be taken into custody.  If defendant can’t come up with the additional bail, he or she will remain in custody for the duration of the matter and sums paid to bail bond agent will not be returned.


In some instances, the court can make release dependent upon additional conditions, include travel restrictions, surrendering a passport, drug and alcohol testing, electronic monitoring devices (ankle bracelets),  supervision and reporting during release.

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