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Committing a Misdemeanor While Out on Bail: Here’s What Next

Committing a misdemeanor while out on bail refers to the act of committing a minor criminal offense while awaiting resolution of a prior criminal charge for which bail has been granted. When a person is released on bail, they are required to follow certain conditions, which typically include not committing any new offenses. If a person violates this condition by committing a misdemeanor, it can lead to the revocation of their bail and potential additional penalties.
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What is a Misdemeanor?

According to a Forbes 2023 publication, a misdemeanor is a type of criminal offense that is less serious than a felony and typically carries a maximum penalty of a year or less in prison, though this can vary by state [1].

Generally, any crimes with a maximum penalty of a year or less in prison are considered misdemeanor offenses. However, in some states, longer jail terms could apply. The statute defining a particular type of misconduct classifies the offense as a misdemeanor – Forbes

For example:

  • Class A misdemeanors, punishable by up to a year of imprisonment
  • Class B misdemeanors, punishable by up to six months imprisonment
  • Class C misdemeanors, punishable by up to 30 days imprisonment

In contrast, felony offenses usually carry penalties of more than a year of incarceration.

What is Bail?

According to the American Bar Association, bail is an amount of money that defendants must pay to be released from custody until their trial [2]. Unlike a fine, bail is not a form of punishment.

The purpose of bail is simply to ensure that defendants will appear for trial and all pretrial hearings for which they must be present. Bail is returned to defendants when their trial is over, in some states minus a processing fee – American Bar Association

The amount of bail is determined by the judge or magistrate, who considers factors such as the risk of the defendant fleeing, the nature of the alleged crime, the defendant’s “dangerousness,” and the safety of the community. Bail may also be conditioned on certain behaviors, such as no contact with the alleged victim.

Defendants who cannot afford bail may seek release through a bail bondsman in most states. By paying a percentage of the total bond, usually 10 percent, the bondsman guarantees the remaining amount to the court if the defendant fails to appear. However, some jurisdictions are moving away from bail bonds and instead release defendants upon payment of 10 percent of the bail directly to the court.

What Happens if You Commit a Misdemeanor While Out on Bail?

Committing a misdemeanor while out on bail can lead to several consequences, including:

  • The setting of a second bail, potentially at a higher rate.
  • Bail revocation and remand into custody.
  • Bail forfeiture.
  • Possible loss of a plea bargain.

Examples of common misdemeanor offenses include:

Note that if you are arrested for a misdemeanor while out on bail, the new arrest may trigger a new case and a new bail process with the court, including another bail hearing. The authorities can hold you in jail until the judge determines a new bail amount and you post it.

Bail is the money you must post with the court to be released from jail after an arrest. It ensures the court that you will attend future court appearances. In some cases, the judge may release you on your “own recognizance,” meaning you do not need to post bail but must promise to attend future court dates.

70% of Those Released on Bail Commit New Crimes: Study

According to the Yolo County District Attorney, in April 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Judicial Council implemented a statewide Emergency Bail Schedule, also known as $0 Bail [3]. Following this, the Yolo County District Attorney began monitoring individuals released on $0 bail and rearrested within the county.

Although the Judicial Council revoked its order in June 2020, several California counties, including Yolo, chose to maintain the emergency bail schedule. However, on June 1, 2021, the Yolo County Superior Court introduced a new bail schedule, effectively ending $0 bail.

In June of the current year, aiming to enhance transparency regarding $0 bail policies and associated data and to contribute to ongoing legislative discussions, the Yolo County District Attorney’s office conducted an analysis of $0 bail and subsequent rearrests.

The criminal histories of the 595 individuals released on $0 bail in Yolo County were examined for any new arrests in California. Out of these, 420 individuals (70.6%) were rearrested, with 123 (20% of the overall number or 29% of those rearrested) arrested for violent crimes such as murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, robbery, carjacking, and domestic violence.

When over 70% of the people released under mandated $0 bail policies go on to commit additional crime(s), including violent offenses such as robbery and murder, there is simply no rational public safety-related basis to continue such a practice post-pandemic, especially in light of the increasing violent crime rates across – California District Attorney Jeff Reisig stated

Notably, one individual released on $0 bail in Yolo County was charged with murder in Sacramento County for a shooting incident that took place in Old Sacramento in July 2021.

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