Chapter 30 / Bail Bond Solicitation by Inmates and Bail Bond Surrenders

Solicitation of inmates is a crime.  Believe it or not inmates in San Diego County Jails are being solicited for bail bonds by other inmates.  History seems to repeat itself when it comes to solicitation for bail bonds in our jails.  In 2001 the District Attorney in Riverside County filed a Criminal Complaint against Ray’s Bail Bonds with over 220 felony charges for solicitation of inmates.

http://articles.latimes.com/2004/jun/26/local/me-bailplea26

Inmates were paid to solicit bail bonds.  When inmates are being paid to solicit bail it creates an unsafe environment for the rest of the inmates in a jail.  In many cases inmates were strong armed to use certain bail bond agencies.  Many inmates stated they were in fear for their life if they didn’t used certain bail bond agencies.

prison inmates on phones

Let’s fast forward to 2013.  Defendants have reported that while they were in custody at San Diego County Jails other inmates prompted or “illegally solicited” them to call certain bail bond agencies or were given the phone after they dialed the phone number for certain bail bond agencies.  Inmates have reported that the phone was passed to them from other inmates and they were told to tell the Bail Agent on the line their name and personal information for the purpose of posting their bail bond. In some cases inmates had no way of paying for these bonds and they were told they could make arrangements once they’re out of jail.  In other words bonds are being posted without payment or a Bail Bond Indemnity Agreement signed. Free bail. The purpose of a bail bond is to make sure the defendant will return to court. Why should a defendant return to court when he or she got a free bail bond and never signed a contract to secure the bond? If the bail bond agency is willing to gamble being paid they do it at their own risk and peril. What happens if the defendant never reports to the bail bond agency or fails to pay the premium for the bond? In the past few years several stories of bail bond agencies going after their clients for failure to pay the premium have been in the news.

http://media.modbee.com/smedia/2011/09/15/14/36/TKI06.So.11.pdf

Criminal Complaint filed on September 14, 2011 against the employees of AJ’s Bail Bonds in Modesto, CA.  On 2/23/06 Walter Scott Osborne was taken from his home to the office of AJ’s Bail Bonds. Osborne was handcuffed to a weight bench and told to raise money or he would be taken back to jail. Osborne was held at AJ’s Bail Bonds for 6 hours until he raised the money to be released.  On 4/26/06 Benjamin Campbell appeared in court and after the appearance was taken to the office of AJ’s Bail Bonds. Campbell was handcuffed to a pole in the basement of AJ’s Bail Bond office and an agent for AJ’s Bail Bonds demanded money. Campbell was left in the dark basement for 4-6 hours. On 1/24/08 Alicia Guitierrez and Estevan Montanez were taken to AJ’s Bail Bonds office after Montanez appeared in court and they were told to come up with the money or Montanez would go back to jail.  Both Guitierrez and Montanez were threatened with a Taser.  Guitierrez was told she could not leave the office of AJ’s Bail Bonds even though she wasn’t out on a bail bond with AJ’s Bail Bonds.  The Criminal Complaint alleges CONSPIRACY TO KIDNAP FOR THE PURPOSE OF EXTORTION, in violation of Section 182/209 of the California Penal Code. 

Here’s another example “Rogue Bail Bondsman Arrested for Abducting Customer Until Debt was Paid

In October, 2010, Damion Paul Perkins was charged with kidnapping for ransom, assault with a deadly weapon and using a firearm during a felony.  A bond was posted for an inmate that failed to pay the “up-front” premium prior to the bond being posted.     http://www.myvalleynews.com/story/51747/

Failure to pay the premium for a bail bond is a civil matter and not a criminal matter yet certain bail bond agencies in San Diego repeatedly surrender defendants without a Bench Warrant for Failure to Appear.  In fact San Diego County Jails accept Bail Bond Surrenders without even asking why the defendant is being surrendered.  With the help of the Sheriff, District Attorney and San Diego Superior Court Presiding Judge the return of defendants into custody for failure to pay the Premium on a bail bond must be stopped.  Once the jails stop accepting these surrenders maybe the bail bond agencies willing to post a bond without the Premium or a signed Indemnity Agreement will think twice before posting free bail bonds.  

Bail Bond Surrenders should be used for the intended purpose. Here are a few examples of when a defendant should be surrendered to the jail:

  1. Failure to Appear with an active Warrant for Arrest
  2. Violation of the Bail Bond Indemnity Agreement
  3. Co-Signer withdrawal
  4. Defendant in custody

There are a few bail bond agencies in San Diego County willing to break the law for money.  Most bail bond agencies in San Diego County have been around for decades and we’re trying to run an honest and professional business and this is why we want to clean up our own industry.  Many states no longer have surety bail bonds.  We don’t want to lose our right to surety bail in California. Without bail bonds anyone arrested would have to come up with the full bail amount and pay the jail.  No 10% of the bail.  No payment plans.

If you’re reading this chapter and you know someone that’s been arrested please warn them not to accept the phone from another inmate if it’s passed to them.  Like the snake in the Garden of Eden the apple is probably poison and can only lead to a very bad experience.  If you’re ever arrested and find yourself inside a jail cell in San Diego County call a friend or loved one you know or select a bail bond agency off the jail card and dial the phone yourself.  Remember, if someone offers to help you inside the jail by prompting you to call a certain bail bond agency over another it’s probably because its self-serving and will benefit them financially. There’s no such thing as “GET OUT OF JAIL FREE.”

jail phone

What can you do to help us stop the illegal solicitation going on inside San Diego County Jails?  Designing a phone cage isn’t practical or efficient with the number of inmates being processed on a daily basis at San Diego County Jails.  The best thing you can do is once you’ve been released please report any incident of illegal solicitation where another inmate or employee of the jail prompted you to call any particular bail bond agency over another.  Contact:

Bail Agents Association of San Diego County, Inc at: http://www.sdbailassn.com  or email  sdbailassn@aol.com

The laws prohibiting the Solicitation of Bail are very clear in the California Insurance Code of Regulations, Title 10:

Section 2077.

“No bail licensee shall, directly or indirectly, transmit or cause to be transmitted to himself or to any other person a communication authorizing said licensee or any other person to solicit or negotiate bail which is a fictitious communication or which is from a person other than a person from whom he may lawfully solicit bail pursuant to Section 2079 or with whom he may lawfully negotiate bail pursuant to Section 2080.  No such communication shall, at any time or in any manner, be used directly or indirectly as an aid in securing information concerning a person confined in a jail, prison or other place of detention or for the purpose of visiting an arrestee therein, or for any other purpose.”

Section 2076.

“No bail licensee shall, for any purpose, directly or indirectly, enter into an arrangement of any kind or have any understanding with a law enforcement officer, newspaper employee, messenger service or any of its employees, a trusty in a jail, any other person incarcerated in a jail, or with any other persons, to inform or notify any licensee (except in direct answer to a question relating to the public records concerning a specific person named by the licensees in the request for information), directly or indirectly, of:

a. The existence of a criminal complaint:

b.  The fact of an arrest: or

c. The fact that an arrest of any person is impending or contemplated.

d. Any information pertaining to the matters set forth in (a to c) hereof or the persons involved therein.”

Section 2074.

“Except as provided in Sections 2074 and 2079.5, no bail licensee shall solicit any person for bail in any prison, jail, or other place of detention of persons, court or public institution connected with the administration of justice; or in the halls or corridors adjacent thereto; provided that a bail licensee may in such halls, corridors or in other rooms or ares where not prohibited by local rule or ordinance transact bail with persons specified in Section 2079 who have prior to transaction, requested his services.”

Chapter 29 / Warning: Retailers Get Even with Civil Recovery

Santa Claus

The holiday season is upon us and the retail stores are ready for the biggest shopping time of the year.  Most retail stores have installed surveillance cameras and have undercover security officers roaming around the inside and outside of their stores due to the rise in crime.  Retail stores in San Diego have a zero tolerance for shoplifting.  In the past if you were arrested for shoplifting 484(a)/488PC Misdemeanor Petty Theft the bail was a simple $500.  Not anymore.  Now if you’re arrested for shoplifting in San Diego the bail is $25,000. for a felony charge of 460(B)PC / 2nd Degree Burglary. Good luck ever finding a job after being convicted of a felony for 2nd Degree Burglary. The majority of job applications ask “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”

In the past the suspect was taken to jail and many cases were rejected because the retail stores didn’t want to prosecute the cases.  Retail stores simply wanted to make an example of anyone shoplifting in their stores.  Again times have changed and the retail stores have a new tool to recover their costs of having a security staff.  Its called  “Civil Recovery.”

California statute  490.5(b)and(c)PC.  “Retailers have the authority under state law to demand civil damages by letter notice from an apprehended shoplifter.  A conviction for shoplifting is NOT a prerequisite to the civil demand by the retailer.  The civil demand can be made and settled before a civil lawsuit is filed against the shoplifter in the appropriate civil court.  A civil demand may be made by the retailer under most state laws whether or not a criminal prosecution has been initiated by the retailers “loss prevention” personnel or local law enforcement.  A person who steals merchandise from a merchant or a book from a library may be civilly liable to the merchant or library for between $50 and $500, plus costs, plus the value of the item stolen if it has not been recovered in its original condition.  The parent(s) of a minor may be sued if the crime is committed by a unemancipated minor.  An action to recover damages under this section may be brought in small claims or traditional civil court.”

In Oakland, CA a Class Action accuses Home Depot for overuse of Civil Demand letters.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/09/09/60945.htm

Warning to parents.  If your child goes to the shopping mall and decides to steal something from a retail store the consequences of their actions will directly affect your bank account.  Parents of a minor child can be sued in California for the civil demand made by the retail store.  After the arrest expect a civil demand letter from the Loss Prevention Department of the retail store or the law firm representing the store.  The Civil Demand letters I’ve seen in San Diego range from $400 to $500.  The letters will continue to arrive if you refuse to pay the amount demanded by the store.  The next stop will be Small Claims Court or Superior Court depending on the damages sought by the merchant.  You will have an opportunity to argue your case but the law is on the side of the merchant that suffered the loss and you can add court costs to the amount owed to the victim.

Most retail stores require the suspect to sign an agreement to pay the civil demand along with a confession before the arresting officer takes them away to jail.  Retail stores are fighting back with civil recovery and prosecuting more cases.  Just because you don’t see a uniformed security guard in a store doesn’t mean you’re not being watched.  Surveillance cameras are everywhere and someone is always watching.  Stealing is a crime.

imagesSUDZCPZ5

images5QCPLYC6

 

 

Chapter 28 / Shark Infested Highways

photo

Would you voluntarily jump into the ocean in an area known for hungry sharks waiting for their next feeding? The same theory holds true for drinking and driving.  You know the sharks (law enforcement) are out there waiting to catch you if you make the slightest mistake while driving.  Here’s the short list of reasons law enforcement will have you pull over:

  • Swerving
  • Driving too slow
  • Driving too fast
  • Going thru a red light
  • Going thru a stop sign
  • Driving the wrong direction on a one-way street
  • A tail light is out
  • Your tinting is too dark on your windows

Drive anywhere in San Diego between 10pm and 6am and you will see law enforcement trolling like sharks waiting for their next meal.  Red and blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror and you know what happens next won’t be good.  I’ve noticed a new trend of tourists arrested for DUI’s in San Diego.  People coming to San Diego to enjoy our luxurious hotels, beaches, amusement parks and fine dining are finding themselves “Just Visiting” at our county jails…not by choice.

Just Visiting

San Diego County has a zero tolerance for drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  Our highways are like shark infested waters with law enforcement waiting for their next feeding.  We have Checkpoints set up on Friday and Saturday nights in Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Chula Vista, Escondido and Downtown near the Gaslamp hoping to catch drivers under the influence before they get on the highways and hurt someone.

DUI Checkpoint

And where the “surf meets the turf at Del Mar,” law enforcement didn’t miss the opportunity to set up a “saturation patrol” on Opening Day of Del Mar Horse Racing, July 17th from 4pm to Midnight.  There were 111 vehicles stopped, 25 were evaluated for being under the influence, 10 arrested and 10 vehicles impounded.  Pretty good catch for law enforcement.  Not so good for the 10 people arrested for DUI’s and then they had to bail out their vehicles which probably cost more than the premium for the bail bond.  Open your wallet because the Superior Courts in San Diego County are going to empty your wallet if you’re convicted of a DUI.

Del Mar Race Track

Most people coming to San Diego for a convention or a vacation aren’t expecting to be arrested.  How do you prepare for getting arrested?  Make sure you have memorized at least ONE phone number of someone who loves you enough to bail you out of jail if you’re arrested.  If you can’t memorize a phone number I suggest you memorize an email address so a Bail Agent like me can email your family or friends to get you out of jail.  Or you can write a phone number on your hand or arm before you start driving between the hours of 10pm and 6am in San Diego if you have any alcohol to drink.  I’m very serious.  If you have 1 glass of wine or 1 beer and then get behind the wheel you could be arrested in San Diego for a DUI.   Law Enforcement will find a reason to stop you if they think you’ve had anything to drink.  All you have to say to the officer is that you had any alcohol to drink and you’re going to jail.  If you blow in the Breathalyzer and its even close to .08 you’re going to jail.  If you refuse to blow in the Breathalyzer you’re going to jail.  If you ask to have your blood drawn instead of blowing in the Breathalyzer you’re going to jail.  The results of your blood test won’t be back until your arraignment in 6 weeks once you post bail. Let’s go over the key things you need to remember if you’re arrested for a DUI (suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol):

  • In California if you refuse to blow in the Breathalyzer you must have your blood drawn or your license will be suspended automatically for 1 year;
  • In California if you’re under 21 yrs old you cannot legally drink alcohol.  If you’re arrested for a DUI and under 21 yrs old it’s an automatic 1 year suspension of your Driver’s License;

If you’re arrested in San Diego and taken to a County Jail you will have access to a phone for several hours. All calls are recorded and the recordings are given to the Sheriff and the District Attorney.  Telling your story on the jail phone is not advisable.  Save it for your attorney.  The best things you can do to help a Bail Agent get you out of jail are:

  • Memorize at least ONE phone number of someone who loves you;
  • Memorize at least ONE email address of someone who loves you;
  • Write down at least ONE phone number on your hand or wrist if you drive after drinking;
  • Be nice to the Arresting Officer and ask that the officer write down some phone numbers from your cell phone before its bagged and sealed at the jail (you’ll be reunited with your “mother ship” upon your release;
  • Write down your credit card number, expiration date, 3 digit code on the back of the credit card on a piece of paper and ask that the Arresting Officer let you keep the piece of paper.  Or write this information on your hand.

Without phone numbers or email addresses its going to be a very long 3-5 days before you’re arraigned.  When you’re visiting San Diego and arrested for a DUI trying to find a bail bond agency willing to post your bond with just the bail premium will be difficult.  Most bail bond agencies require collateral because defendants arrested for a DUI that live outside of San Diego County rarely return for court.  Many retain their own attorneys or just never come back.  If you FTA (Fail to Appear) and you’re out on a bond the bail amount will double, a Warrant will be issued for your arrest and more than likely you’ll have a Bounty Hunter coming after you.  Nothing upsets a Judge more than a defendant that fails to appear.  At some point you will be standing before this Judge and he or she won’t be happy to see you.

So remember if you don’t want to end up as another meal for the sharks don’t drink and drive.  Take a taxi, call a friend or use a designated driver.  The life you save may be your own.

sharks

Chapter 27 / DUI’s…Like Picking Apples Off Trees

Driving between the hours of 10pm and 6am in San Diego County is like picking apples off trees for law enforcement.  It’s not “if” you get arrested if you drink and drive…….its “when” you get arrested for a DUI in San Diego County.  In the past few years I’ve noticed San Diego County has adopted a “zero tolerance for DUI’s” attitude.  Law Enforcement simply need a reason to pull you over and if you’ve had anything to drink you can plan on going to jail.  Here’s a few examples of traffic stops reported to me by my clients arrested for DUI’s in San Diego County over the past few years.  It starts out like this…..the police officer will say “do you know why I pulled you over?”

  • You drove thru a red light.
  • You drove thru a stop sign.
  • You didn’t make a full stop at a stop sign.
  • You were driving the wrong direction on a one way street.
  • You made a sudden lane change.
  • You didn’t use a turn signal when you changed lanes.
  • Your tail light is out.
  • You were swerving.  (most popular)
  • You were driving too fast.
  • You were driving too slow.

As you can see it doesn’t take very much for a police officer to pull you over.  Officers are trained to watch drivers out on the road between 10pm and 6am.  In most cases drivers were out to dinner or at some sort of social function and they probably had a glass of wine, beer or hard liquor.   Once the police officer has you pulled over and tells you why he/she pulled you over the next question is a “game changer.”   Here it comes……”HAVE YOU BEEN DRINKING?”   Think long and hard before you answer this question.  Don’t lie to a police officer because that never works out well for you.  The bail will be even higher.  If you say “yes” you’re going to jail.   No matter what happens next the result will be the same in almost every case.  You’re going to jail.   If you agree to blow in the Breathalyzer and your BAC comes back anything above .01 you’re going to jail.  The police officer has determined that you are “impaired” so you cannot get back into your vehicle and drive again.   If you refuse to blow and agree to have your blood drawn the officer will handcuff you and take you to the police station or jail to have your blood drawn.  Since it takes several weeks to get the BAC results you can plan on spending about 8+ hours in jail and having to post bail.   In San Diego County a first DUI is a $2,500. bail.  If you refuse to blow or have your blood drawn you’re going to jail and your California Driver’s License will be automatically suspended for 1 year.   No matter what you say to the officer about drinking or not drinking, or taking prescription medications the officer will conduct a sobriety test.  If the officer determines that you’re unable to pass the sobriety test you will be going to jail.  How can you avoid being arrested?  You could stay off the roads between 10pm and 6am.  That’s one way to solve that problem.  How about taking a taxi or have a designated driver?  The easiest way to avoid being one of those apples picked off the tree is don’t drink and drive.

Like picking apples off the trees.

Like picking apples off trees.

So you aren’t convinced that driving impaired in any fashion between the hours of 10pm and 6am is risky business?  How about the cost of being arrested for a DUI in San Diego County?  First be ready to take public transportation for a while since your driver’s license will be suspended for a period of time.  Or perhaps you prefer to ride a bike for a while?  Car Pooling with friends?  Taxi Cabs?   According to Mr. Checkpoint the statistics are staggering.   “The cost of DUI’s in the United States is over $114,000,000,000. (that’s $114 Billion) annually.   Approximately 3 of every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol related crash some time in their lives.”

In San Diego County the cost of a 1st offense DUI conviction is over $10,000.

  • Towing your vehicle  $350-$450 (and that’s if you can find the Vehicle Registration in the glove box)
  • Add $38 to $50 per day for your vehicle in the impound lot if you can’t bail your vehicle out.
  • DMV Reinstatement of your Driver’s License $125.
  • Pre-Sentencing Probation Report $1127.
  • DUI Fine $1756.
  • MADD Victim Impact Panel (voluntary donation of $20…pay it or you may end up with a Warrant for failure to complete the class)
  • Supervised Probation (3 years)  $3564
  • Increase in your automobile insurance $4600.
  • Attorney Fees if you choose to hire your own attorney.  (if you enjoy sitting at the court for hours, paying for parking and listening to others arrested for DUI’s,  forgo the private attorney and use the Public Defender.
  •  Don’t forget to fill out the Financial Declaration (signed under penalty of perjury) which forces you to show where all of your money is hidden.  Bank accounts, under the mattress, piggy bank, stocks and bonds, IRA, checking accounts, saving accounts…..and then San Diego County will tell you how much you have as “disposable income” and set up a payment plan for you to make payments for the Public Defender (they’re not free), fines and other court costs. And if you fail to make a payment on time to the court for anything be ready to see a Deputy at your front door to arrest you and take you back to jail.  San Diego County doesn’t have a Collections Dept.

                                                                             http://tinyurl.com/Financial-Declaration

  •  Aside from missing this opportunity to sit like a sardine in a barrel while you wait in the court business office for hours waiting for your paperwork…….

barrel of sardines

  • with a private attorney your case will slow down and you actually might get a better deal if you have a good attorney that handles a large caseload of DUI’s and knows the major players at the courts.  It’s about wheeling and dealing at this level.  A DUI conviction in San Diego County is going to make your life a living nightmare.

The next time you go out in the evening in San Diego think twice before you get behind the wheel and try to drive home if you had any alcohol to drink and you’re impaired.  The odds are against you and the chances are great that you could end up in jail, the hospital or the morgue.

Jail Hospital or Morgue

Related Articles:

Need a ride home? Immediate service in a Town Car when you can’t drive home. Be safe…not sorry.   Call A San Diego Limo 858-568-4883   www.asandiegolimo.net

Chapter 26 / Be Home for the Holidays

The dream of being home for the holidays is upon us again.  Unfortunately there will be some people who won’t make it home this year due to drunk driving.  Either your loved one will be the drunk driver spending the holidays in jail or your loved one will be injured or worse…killed by a drunk driver.

I rest my case.

The statistics on the website for MADD  http://www.madd.org/statistics/ are frightening.   Here’s just a few of the statistics:

  • “An average drunk driver has driven 80 times before the first arrest.”
  • “Almost every 90 seconds, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash.”
  • “Over 1.4 million drivers were arrested in 2010 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.”
  • “In fatal crashes in 2010, the highest percentage of drunk drivers:

                  Age 21-24  (34%)

                 Age 25-34  (30%)

                 Age  35-44  (25%)

During the holidays law enforcement increase the number of officers out on our streets and highways in an effort to try to prevent drunk drivers from injuring themselves or others.   Checkpoints are set up randomly all over San Diego County trying to stop drunk drivers.  The Amber Alert signs on the highways are requesting citizens to call 911 if you suspect a drunk driver is out on the roads.   This is an all out effort to save lives.

The reason the number of DUI arrests increase over the holidays is simple.   More people are out on the road traveling due to office parties and visiting friends and family.   Many companies celebrate the holidays at offices and hotels where alcohol is served.   The root of the problem is your judgment is impaired by alcohol and/or drugs.   The few glasses of Egg Nog with Rum seemed so innocent.  A few shots of Tequila didn’t seem to be a very big deal at the time.  The holiday season….good times.    After the office party ends everyone gets into their vehicles to drive home.   The smart people will spend the night at a hotel or call a taxi cab.   For those people who think they’re sober enough to drive its like playing Russian Roulette.   The impaired drivers have a very high risk of being arrested for a DUI in San Diego County.   Once an officer stops a driver under suspicion of drunk driving the chances of being arrested are high.  The officer will ask the driver if he or she has been drinking.  If you admit that you had any alcohol before getting into your vehicle to drive the Sobriety Test is a simple formality.   If you choose to blow in the Breathalyzer it really doesn’t matter what you blow because if the officer believes you’re impaired by alcohol or drugs you’re going to jail.  Even if you blow under .08% BAC you’re going to jail.  If you refuse to blow and ask to have your blood drawn you’re still going to jail since the BAC results won’t be known for several weeks.  Once you’ve been stopped by law enforcement for suspicion of DUI you can plan on going to jail and in most cases your vehicle will be towed and stored until the Registered Owner can retrieve the vehicle out of impound.

Once you’ve been arrested in San Diego County for a DUI the officer will transport you to jail.   Men go to Central Jail and women to Las Colinas.   If you’re arrested in North County both men and women are taken to the Vista Jail.   Take advantage of the time you’re in the vehicle with the Arresting Officer.   Due to cell phones most people haven’t memorized any phone numbers.  Everyone is on SPEED DIAL.  Try to memorize ONE phone number of someone who can help you if you’re arrested.  Ask the officer if you can call someone from your cell phone before he/she bags up your property.   During the last few months I’ve had a few calls from people arrested sitting in the back seat of a squad car or a family member calling to arrange bail before the person arrested arrives at the jail.  This is absolutely fantastic and certainly speeds up the process. If the officer won’t let you make any calls on your cell phone ask the officer to write some phone numbers on your hand or a piece of paper.  Once the officer seals up your cell phone in a property bag you won’t see your phone again until you’re released.

For your information a bail bond cannot be posted by any Bail Agent until the inmate is Cleared by the jail.  This process can take a minimum of 4-6 hours or longer depending on how busy the jail is when you arrive.  If you’re arrested for a DUI over the holidays its going to be a very long time before your arraignment if you can’t bail out of jail.  In most cases you could be sitting in jail for a week before you’re arraigned.   The courts will be closed on November 22nd and 23rd for Thanksgiving, December 25th for Christmas and January 1st for New Year’s Day.

What happens if you’re convicted for a DUI in San Diego?

  • Pay a Fine in excess of $1700 in most cases;
  • Probation for 5 years and you can’t be arrested with a BAC of .01% or risk Violation of Probation
  • Report to Substance Abuse Assessment Unit
  • Enroll in the First Conviction Program
  • Attend MADD class
  • If court ordered attend AA Class

Your Driver’s License will be taken by the Arresting Officer and returned to the DMV.  Your Driver’s License will be returned to you at some point depending on the outcome of your case in the Superior Court.   The Driver’s License could be suspended or restricted for a period of time.   If you need your Driver’s License for your job things are going to get very difficult for you for a while.   If you need to travel on an airplane  you must have a government issued I.D. like a Passport or California I.D. issued by the DMV.  Getting a document notarized will be very difficult without a Driver’s License, Passport or California ID unless you have a Military ID, County or State Government ID or an inmate wristband in jail.

Before you decide to get into your vehicle to drive after having a few drinks with friends and family this holiday season,  think about the consequences of your actions.  You could be spending the holidays in jail because you were arrested for a DUI.  Or worse, your family will be planning your funeral and grieving your loss because you were killed in an accident due to drunk driving.   Please don’t drink and drive.   If you go out make sure you have a Designated Driver who won’t be drinking.  Or take a taxi home.    Play it safe so everyone can be home for the holidays.

Related Articles:

Do you have a legal question?  Submit your legal questions to askjudgejackie@gmail.com

Chapter 25 / Warning! Your Arrest is on the Internet

Anyone arrested in the United States needs to fear the Internet.  In the past your arrest record was a private matter and law enforcement only had access to this information.  People with arrest records could seamlessly travel through communities without having to reveal their past brushes with the law.  Unless you were wanted for a felony and you ended up on a Most Wanted website your secret was safe with law enforcement in the jurisdiction where you committed the crime. After a criminal case is dismissed some people move to another city and try to start their lives over again. Completing a job application wasn’t a problem since the arrest information may have been expunged or removed from court records in the jurisdiction of the crime.  Piece of cake, right?   Wrong.

Thanks to the Internet several new websites have started popping up on the first page of Google.  Do a search with the keywords of the name of the person and the word “arrested.”  Your arrest information is on the Internet and there isn’t a thing you can do to get it removed.  Its public record.  Here’s a few sites that share your darkest secret and keep sharing it for at least 6 months or more after your arrest.

http://www.localcrimenews.com

http://arrestfiles.org/

http://www.jailbase.com

In some jurisdictions your mug shot is on this website with the charges.  Jailbase.com offers a free notification service if any of your friends on Facebook are arrested. The data base is extensive and growing. The bottom line is if you break the law and get arrested the information will end up on the Internet.  Is there anything you can do to prevent the websites from sharing your arrest(s)?  No.  The information is public record and the website isn’t breaking the law by publishing the arrest(s).  Can you pay them to remove the information?  Nope.  I guess this a form of payback by society for breaking the law.  Many small towns have Police Blotters where they publish all calls to the local police station.  Jay Leno has routinely read some of the more bizarre and humorous calls to small town police stations.   Dog the Bounty Hunter has written a book entitled “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide” which is available on Amazon.com. In the past the greatest fear to anyone arrested was the Bounty Hunter if they decided to run.  Now the greatest fear for the arrestee is the information can be found online after being released from jail and months later. What if the case isn’t filed?  Doesn’t matter. Websites that display arrests don’t track the cases.

http://www.jailbase.com

http://arrestfiles.org/

http://www.localcrimenews.com

A disclaimer is on their websites about being innocent until proven guilty. Doesn’t matter when your information is on the Internet and the entire world can see you were arrested for a DUI, Domestic Violence, Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance, Drunk in Public, Elder Abuse, Receiving Stolen Property, etc  in the past 6 months or more. Landlords can view these websites before renting apartments to prospective tenants. Good luck trying to find a place to live once you’ve been arrested and the information is all over the Internet. Prospective employers can view these websites before hiring anyone. You’re boxed in if you’ve been arrested in 2012. You no longer can break the law and keep it a secret. You can run but you can’t hide from the Internet websites that track arrests.  Feels like the Nathaniel Hawthorne book “The Scarlet Letter” we all read in high school.   The letter “A” truly has new meaning once you’ve been arrested. How can you avoid ending up on one of these arrest websites?  I think you know the answer.  Don’t get arrested.

RELATED LINKS

Chapter 24 / San Diego’s Dirtiest Little Secret? Revolving Door at Jails

When someone is arrested the jail will take away all of your property including your cell phone.   Unless you have phone numbers memorized its going to be a very long stay in jail.   Several years ago I did a story with Consumer Bob at NBC 7 about the importance of memorizing phone numbers.

Since we did this story the jail phones in San Diego County Jails can call 619 area code cell phone numbers. If you’re calling a cell phone outside the 619 area code the person receiving the call must give their credit card or debit card number to PCS before the call will go through.  In addition,  I’ve noticed several of my clients have phone numbers written on their hands because the arresting officer allowed them to write phone numbers before they took away their cell phones.  It’s almost like a game of cat and mouse when it comes to getting arrested.  If you’re nice to the arresting officer and cooperate in most cases the officer will allow you the opportunity to jot down some phone numbers or even your credit card number, expiration date and 3 digit code off the back of the card.  What happens when you don’t have any phone numbers memorized or the arresting officer refuses to give you the chance to jot down some numbers?  Plan B.  Once the inmate is inside a jail cell with phones the best thing he or she can do is call a Bail Bond Agent.  The members of the Bail Agents Association of San Diego County, Inc are on a jail card by each phone in the jail cells. When an inmate calls me from a San Diego County Jail I treat each call as an emergency where someone is in trouble and needs my help.  Without any phone numbers it makes it more difficult but not impossible to get them out of jail.  The key is communication when someone is trying to bail out of jail. When an inmate calls a bail bond agency it’s very important that they remember who they called and stick with ONE agency. When an inmate calls multiple bail bond agencies it turns into a huge mess.  Case in point.  An inmate called me to bail out of jail.  The inmate requests that I call his parents to bail him out.  I call the parents and begin the process of bailing out their son.  Several hours pass while the inmate is being processed and no one hears from the inmate again.  Inmates cannot receive phone calls or messages because the jail is not a hotel.  So we must wait to hear from the inmate. Since there’s no communication between the inmate and the people trying to help them things can get complicated if multiple bail bond agencies were called by the inmate.  Or friends tried to bail out this inmate.  Or other relatives tried to bail out this inmate.  Talk about a communication breakdown.   Once the inmate “Clears” on the San Diego Sheriff’s website a bond can be posted for the inmate:

http://www.sdsheriff.net/wij/wij.aspx

The Bail Agent you selected goes to the jail to post the bond.  The clerk at the jail looks at the bond and says, “sorry, this bond was already posted.” WHAT???? This happens every day in San Diego. The reason? Communication breakdown.  The jail clerk cannot tell you who posted the bond.  So now you have to get your money back from the bail bond agency you paid and wait for your friend or loved one to get released.  Upon release the inmate is given a piece of paper with the court date and the name of the bail bond agency that posted the bond.  Lately in San Diego this has become a very common occurrence.  HUNGRY bail bond agencies are posting bail bonds without any money, without a signed Bail Bond Indemnity Agreement, without collateral and no co-signer. This is what we call HIGH RISK bail and in many cases these defendants disappear which creates more warrants for San Diego County.

This simple task of posting bail for a loved one or friend has turned into a major headache.  Now you’re at the mercy of the bail bond agency that posted the bond.  Why? Whoever posts the bond first gets the bond in San Diego.  I hate to say it but it’s turned into a big joke.  San Diego’s dirtiest little secret.  The majority of bail bonds written in San Diego County are probably on credit and financed by a handful of bail bond agencies with a staff of Bounty Hunters and a Collections Dept.  The BIG bail bond agencies are making this into a game.  The agency that posts the most bonds wins?  Wins what?   Its public record the number of bonds posted by bail bond agencies.   About 3 bail bond agencies in San Diego County write over 300 bonds per month while the majority of the bail bond agencies write less than 50 bonds per month.   Many bonds are being posted without any money. In some cases inmates are prompted by rogue bail bond agents to “work the room” for them. The more inmates they get to use this bail bond agency the bigger the “discount” for the inmate working the room for their own bond. This activity is against the law and if the bail bond agency is caught soliciting in this fashion they can be prosecuted and lose their bail license. The difficult part is catching the rogue bail bond agencies in the act. If your friend or loved one was bailed out by a bail bond agency that you didn’t select let me know  bailbondwoman@gmail.com . Or contact the California Dept of Insurance fraud@insurance.ca.gov . The right to post bail bonds at San Diego County Jails is a privilege and this privilege can be taken away if a licensed agent breaks the law.  If we lost the right to post bail bonds at our jails everyone would have to come up with the entire amount of the bail which would cut the number of inmates released while they await trial.  Or the nonviolent inmates would be released with GPS Electronic Ankle Bracelets which we know don’t work when the inmate cuts the bracelet off.

The answer is clean up the bail bond industry in California.   So how can you avoid being the victim of a bail bond agency posting a bond for your friend or loved one without your knowledge or consent?

  1. Find out if the inmate called anyone about being arrested and in jail.  Including relatives, friends or bail bond agencies.
  2. If the inmate states he/she called a bail bond agency ask them the name of the agency.
  3. If the inmate called other friends or relatives get their names and phone numbers.
  4. Contact anyone the inmate called to find out if the bond is being posted when the inmate clears.

Sadly this is a sign of our times.  Money is tight and bail bond agencies are fighting over bail bonds.  Many agencies are posting bonds in violation of their Rate Filing Fee which puts public safety at risk.  Dangerous inmates are walking out of jail without paying the standard 10% premium and securing the bonds with a co-signer or collateral depending on the size of the bond.

With AB109 many inmates are walking out of jail early with a GPS Electronic Bracelet and no bail bond.

The crime in San Diego has increased if you watch the news.   The number of robberies at convenience stores and home invasions are up.  Why?  The criminals have a revolving door to San Diego County Jails.   Unless  the taxpayers of this community speak up against the rogue bail bond agencies and find a way to raise money for privatizing our jails the risk of crime will only increase in San Diego County.    We can do something but it will take a grass-roots effort from this community.     Here’s a list of suggestions of how we can correct the bail bond industry in San Diego County:

Get some laws on the books to prevent bail bonds from being posted at San Diego County Jails unless:

  • The premium is collected prior to the bond being accepted at San Diego County Jails
  • The licensed Bail Agent must  give the name and phone number of the person requesting the bail bond
  • A Bail Bond Indemnity Agreement must be signed by the inmate before posting the bond if the inmate “self bails”
  • If the bond is too large and a bond is being financed 50% of the premium must be collected up front and the balance paid in full within 12 months

If we don’t get a handle on the way business is being conducted at our jails the number of crimes will only continue to grow.   The revolving door to our jails must be stopped.  Bail Bond Agencies need to be policed by the California Dept of Insurance. Commissioner Dave Jones we’re calling upon you to start enforcing current laws on the books and help create new laws to insure public safety in the state of California.

Chapter 23 / No Longer Business as Usual

You probably thought only criminals get arrested until the phone rings in the middle of the night and your son or daughter tells you they’re in jail.  No one ever thinks their son or daughter will get arrested until you get “that” call.  The first thing that runs through your head is “how am I going to get my son or daughter out of jail?”  There’s no training for this drill.  We didn’t have this class in school growing up.  Where do you start?   Who should you call?   In San Diego we are truly blessed to have the Bail Agents Association of San Diego County, Inc.   Members of the Bail Agents Association of San Diego County, Inc. are carefully screened.  Here’s the criteria:

  • Current Bail Agent License thru the California Dept of Insurance
  • Name of the agency authorized by the California Dept of Insurance
  • Physical office address in San Diego County
  • Phone number verified with the physical billing address
  • Physical address verified against the address given to the San Diego County Superior Courts
  • Member in Good Standing

Before you Google or go to the Yellow Pages print or online  http://tinyurl.com/cbgyxa4  and select the bail bond agency that brags about being the biggest bail bond agency in the world do your homework.   If the bail bond agency doesn’t have an office in San Diego the service could be inferior compared to an agency with an agent that physically lives and works in San Diego.  No one knows how the San Diego County Jails run better than the Bail Agents that actually live and work in San Diego County. When your son or daughter is sitting in a jail cell the minutes seem like hours. You don’t have time to waste verifying where a bail bond agency is located and if the person on the other end of the phone line is actually a Licensed California Bail Agent.   So how do you find a Bail Agent in San Diego besides using the Bail Agents Association of San Diego County, Inc. membership list? Many bail bond agencies in L.A. and outside of California figured out a way to trick the consumers into thinking the agency is in San Diego by using the San Diego area codes (619), (858) and (760) with their phone numbers.  Don’t be fooled.   Click on this link:

http://www.sdsheriff.net/jailinfo/bailagents.html

When you’re searching for a Bail Agent in San Diego ask the person that answers the phone these questions:

  1. Are you a licensed Bail Agent in California?
  2. What is your license number?  (you can verify the license at the following link:     http://interactive.web.insurance.ca.gov/webuser/licw_lic_search$.startup
  3. Is the license number valid and current?   Does the license number match the name of the person you’re speaking to on the phone?
  4. Do they have a physical address in San Diego?

Time is critical now and you really don’t need any added frustration with a bail bond agency out-of-state or in Los Angeles scrambling to find an agent in San Diego to post a bond for them. You’re a consumer and you have the ability to choose any bail bond agency you want and you expect good service.   I hear all the time from my clients that they called a bail bond agency and they refused to help them.   My approach to each call is no different from a 911 operator.   When you have an emergency and you call 911 can you imagine if the operator said “I can’t help you” and hangs up?   Well, that’s exactly what happens when people call bail bond agencies that can’t be bothered with doing a little extra work to earn the premium.  When you call Bail Bond Woman you get a Bail Agent that treats every call as an emergency.   I make the effort to help people when their loved one is in trouble.   If the family or friends can afford to bail out a loved one I will personally go to the jail and post the bond.  There will be times I can’t bail out an inmate because the bail amount is too high or there’s some sort of Hold placed on the inmate.  It’s about giving hope to family members and figuring out a way to communicate with their loved one if they can’t afford the bail.  I believe in quality vs quantity.  Many bail bond agencies in San Diego believe this is some sort of competition.  The agency that writes the most bail bonds in a day wins.  Wins what?  Makes more money?  Wins some sort of bragging rights?  Do you know who the loser is in this competition?   Your loved one.  While the BIG bail bond agencies are juggling a dozen bonds at a time with maybe 1 or 2 agents in their office your loved one or friend is sitting in jail. The person that gets short-changed is your loved one.  While they’re busy talking on the phone to other clients or inmates from the jail your loved one is waiting for their bond to be posted.  Do you think your loved one is the only bond they’re working on?  Not if it’s a BIG bail bond agency.  Sometimes smaller is better.  You’ll get personalized service and more than likely your loved one will be out of custody faster because the bond is posted as soon as they Clear on the Sheriff’s website.

http://apps.sdsheriff.net/wij/wij.aspx

Once you select a bail bond agency and you feel comfortable with your choice the Bail Agent will get you through the process. Bail Bond Woman will keep you informed every step of the way including when the bond is actually posted.  We’re in this together until the case comes to some closure.  It’s not just about posting the bond and getting your loved one out of jail.  No one ever expects to get that phone call from a loved one that they’ve been arrested.   However, you can expect to find someone willing to help you no matter what time of the day or night.  And that’s Bail Bond Woman.

Chapter 22 / Who is in Jail in San Diego? (bailbondwoman.wordpress.com)

Chapter 22 / Who’s in Jail in San Diego?

Who’s in jail in San Diego?  Or should I say who isn’t in jail in San Diego?  Sheriff Gore announced on April 27, 2012 the San Diego County Jails are almost full.   San Diego County has 7 detention facilities with a maximum capacity of 5,600 inmates.   As of last week we  have 4,922 inmates in custody in San Diego County.   The inn is almost full.   Thank you AB109 the law requiring local jails to keep the convicted nonviolent felons in county jails versus sending them off to prison.    The criminal justice system in California has changed due to the overcrowding in the California prisons.   The U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to correct the overcrowding in the prisons within a set time period.    We have until the middle of 2013 to complete this monumental task.   In the mean time what happens now?    Inmates arrested for some “misdemeanors” will basically be cited and notified when they will need to appear in court and won’t be going to jail.  What happens if you FTA or Fail to Appear?   Warrant for your arrest.  See Chapter 8.  The Cure of Warrants.   http://bailbondwoman.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/chapter-8-the-cure-for-warrants/

If you’re arrested for any of the following charges you’re still going to jail.   No “get out of jail free” for these offenses.

bail bonds San Diego

  • DUI’s
  • Suspicion of Annoying or Molesting Children
  • Violation of Probation
  • Domestic Violence
  • Sex Offender Registration Violations

How do you find out if your loved one is in a San Diego County Jail?   Click on this link:  http://apps.sdsheriff.net/wij/wij.aspx

Type in the last name and then the first name of the inmate.   Then click Look Up.   If you see your friend or loved one’s name they’re in a San Diego County Detention Facility.  Click on their name and an Inmate Detail with their personal information will come up on the screen.    Here’s a list of information you’ll be able to view:

  • Personal Information about the Inmate
  • Housing Location (Detention Facility with links for directions, address, visiting schedule)
  • Services (Email this Inmate, Schedule a Visit with this Inmate, Commissary and Register with Vinelink for status Notification of this Inmate)
  • Arrest Information (Arresting Agency, Date and Time of Booking)
  • Bail Information  (Eligible for Bail, Not Eligible for Bail in Process, Not Eligible for Release, No Bail)
  • Release (Sentenced? and Projected Release Date)
  • Case / Charge Information (Case Number, Charge(s), Code, Code Description, Court Location, Court Date, Court Time, Charge Class (Felony or Misdemeanor), Bail Amount for each charge)

If your friend or loved one cannot be bailed out of jail the Services section will be your best mode of communication with the inmate.   An inmate can receive ONE email per day.  They can receive emails but cannot respond via email.    Before anyone is allowed to email an inmate you must complete an online authorization form provided by the San Diego Sheriff.   You must complete this form and be approved before you will be allowed to email an inmate.    Debit Cards can be purchased thru the Sheriff’s website so inmates may call you without paying the higher collect call charges.   Shopping the commissary allows you to send gifts to inmates, put money on the books so they may buy items they may need or want from the commissary.   Schedule a Social Visit with the inmate thru the Sheriff’s website.    Please keep in mind if you’re going to visit an inmate at a San Diego County Detention Facility you MUST arrive 1 hour before your visit time to check in and the inmate can be brought to the Social Visit room.   I have personally seen loved ones arrive at the jail at the scheduled visit time and they were turned away by jail staff.    This can be heartbreaking for both you and the inmate.   So make sure you arrive ONE HOUR BEFORE your scheduled Social Visit time.

Due to the poor economy many inmates are in jail because friends and loved ones cannot afford the high bail amounts.    Chapter 17 Are Bail Bond Payment Plans a Good Idea?

http://bailbondwoman.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/chapter-17-are-bail-bond-payment-plans-a-good-idea/

Be very careful entering into a payment agreement with a bail bond agency.  Read the fine print.   What seems like a good idea could turn out as your worse nightmare.    I receive calls  from loved ones wanting to bail out an inmate when the bail is extremely high.   I caution these callers and suggest waiting for the Arraignment or Bail Review Hearing to try to get a reduction in the bail amount.   Many times a $100,000. bail is reduced to half or less if the defendant has no priors, employed and established in the community and not a threat to public safety.   A few nights in jail may save you thousands of dollars.   If you decide to use a bail bond agency that offers a “low down” with payments, make sure you understand how the interest rate will be computed.   I’ve heard of people paying double and triple the premium amount by the time they finish paying off the bond.    If a case is rejected by the District Attorney and you bailed out your friend or loved one the premium is still due.    The case could be dropped and you’re still on the hook for the full premium.    Buyer BEWARE.

With the criminal justice system changing in California we will see alternative forms of custody in our lifetime.   House arrests,  Electronic Monitoring Devices and maybe get a microchip implanted.    As scary as that sounds its quite possible convicted felons will have a microchip implanted in our lifetime.   Removing an Electronic Bracelet has become common practice if you’ve watched the latest video’s on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_zWXlfYGS4&list=PLE0A00C02368C3D30

If you think you have a loved one or friend in jail check the Sheriff’s website:

http://apps.sdsheriff.net/wij/wij.aspx

If you think you may have an Active Warrant for your arrest check the Sheriff’s website:

http://apps.sdsheriff.net/warrant/waar.aspx

If you think you may have a Restraining Order or Protective Order against you check the Sheriff’s website:

http://apps.sdsheriff.net/tro/tro.aspx

If you have a current felony case with court appearances scheduled for the next 5 days here’s a link to check:

http://www.sdcourt.ca.gov/portal/page?_pageid=55,1643413&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

If you found this information helpful let me know.

Since this YouTube story aired on Channel 10 News the rules have changed at Las Colinas Women’s Detention Facility.  If a bail bond is posted between the hours of 10:30pm and 6:30am an inmate may be released as long as she has a ride home with a friend or family member.   Sorry no Taxi Cabs.

Chapter 21 / DUI + INJURY = FELONY

You went out to celebrate and that involved a few drinks.   After the celebration you decided to get behind the wheel and drive home because you thought you were able to drive.  On the way home the impairment caused loss of control of the vehicle and there was a collision with another vehicle.   The driver of the other vehicle was injured and maybe there were passengers in the vehicle injured.  Maybe pedestrians were injured. When the police arrive the impaired driver is given a Sobriety Test.  If the driver blows in the Breathalyzer above .08 BAC or has their blood drawn the driver is taken into custody and charged with  23153(a) / 23153(b)VC pending the results from the blood test if the driver refused to blow.   DUI with Injury and DUI with .08% BAC with Injury.   Bail is set at $100,000. in San Diego County for these charges.   Driving is a privilege many people take for granted.  In an instant that privilege can be taken away.   Losing your drivers license is nothing compared to the felony charges facing the driver when arrested for a DUI with injury.   One impaired decision to drive after drinking alcohol can lead to sitting in jail for days, weeks, months or even years. While the driver charged with DUI w/injury is sitting in jail wishing he or she never got behind the wheel after drinking, there’s a victim suffering with physical injuries and mental anguish.

Where do you start to pick up the pieces after being arrested for Felony DUI?   The first question most people ask is “why is the bail set so high?”   The Presiding Judge and the committee of judges decide each year the bail amounts when they review the Bail Schedule.   Felony DUI is a serious charge and the court wants to insure the defendant returns to court to face the charge or charges.   What if you can’t make the $100,000. bail?   At the Arraignment you hope your attorney can get the bail amount reduced.   The court will consider many factors before reducing the bail amount.   Is this defendant a threat to public safety?   Does the defendant have ties to the county?   Has this defendant been arrested for a prior DUI or DUI’s?   The District Attorney and the attorney representing the defendant will present arguments to the judge and a decision will be made.   Depending on the defendant the bail amount could stay the same. Or the bail could be reduced. Or the bail could be raised to insure the defendant either remains in custody or will have a financial risk if he or she fails to return to the court for future court appearances. If the bail isn’t reduced at the Arraignment the defendant can request a Bail Review Hearing scheduled at a future date.   Another opportunity to try to get the bail reduced.   Once out on bail the defendant will prepare their defense with their private attorney or the Public Defender.  If the defendant cannot post bail they will remain in custody and be brought to each court appearance via transportation provided by the Sheriff’s field trip bus from jail.

Defendants able to post bail on felony charges must appear at all court appearances when ordered to do so by the court.   Even if a defendant has retained their own attorney he or she must be at all court appearances unless told by the court they do not need to appear.    California SB291 went into law on January 1, 2012.   According to District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis “this law will stop defendants from slipping out of custody and save taxpayers thousands of dollars.  It costs a lot of money to extradite defendants to face charges in San Diego County.  Every time one of them post bail and flees our jurisdiction prior to appearing in court, tax dollars are squandered.”   Senate Bill 291 sets the bail at $100,000. for a defendant who is extradited back to California to face original charges.  The $100,000. will be in addition to bail already set on the underlying charges.   Basically a bail will double in this case if the defendant were to flee on a $100,000. bail.

Depending on the outcome of the case a defendant could be looking at jail time, fines and loss of their drivers license for a set period of time.    In addition to the court costs, attorney fees, fines, restitution for the victim(s) which could include repair to their vehicle(s), insurance deductibles if your automobile insurance policy covers the property damage and medical costs for the victim(s) and costs for the vehicle driven by the defendant. If the car was towed and stored there are fees to be paid.  If the vehicle was a total loss more fees and damages to be paid.    After getting through all these damages and fees what about the employment of the defendant?  In many cases the defendant will lose their job as a result of the arrest.  A DUI with injury is a very expensive arrest with life changing consequences.    Next time you decide to go out and drink please don’t drive.    Make sure you have a designated driver or call a taxi for a ride home.   If you are too impaired to drive the end result could be deadly.

Chapter 20 / “But Officer I Blew Under .08%? Why are you Arresting Me?”

So you thought if your BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) is under .08% the nice police officer is going to say “thanks for blowing and have a nice day.”    Ah……….nope.   My clients have told me that they were allegedly pulled over by the police for some other vehicular issue like speeding, swerving, driving too slow, stopped over the white line of the crosswalk or a tail light was out.   Once the officer made contact with them the question of drinking came up.   The officer finds a way to ask within the first few seconds….. “have you been drinking?”   If the answer is yes the officer will request that you get out of the vehicle and undergo a sobriety test.   The officer will ask you to blow in the Breathalyzer.   No matter what you blow in the Breathalzyer it appears you’re going to jail.   Recently I had a client that blew .06% and was arrested and went to jail.   It doesn’t seem to matter what you blow.   When law enforcement determines you’ve been drinking and driving you’re going to jail.    You’re thinking….but I didn’t break the law?  Why am I going to jail?   Tell it to the judge.   Refusing to blow and allowing law enforcement to draw your blood is also a free trip to the jail since the BAC results won’t be back until your arraignment in 6 weeks.    What if you refuse to blow and refuse to have your blood drawn?   Kiss your drivers license goodbye for a year.   Wow.  Not what you expected?  Most people think they can drink a beer or a glass of wine with a meal and then get into their vehicles and drive.   Not anymore in California.   We’ve had so many victims injured or killed by drunk drivers that it appears that the State of California has mandated that if you’re stopped for drinking and driving you’re going to jail.  Just that simple.   I “assume” the reasoning for making the arrest is to get you off the road and hopefully teach you a lesson.   When you get to the court the case may or may not be filed if your BAC was below the legal limit of .08%.    By this point you’ve spent anywhere from 4 hours to 5 or more days in jail if you were unable to make bail.   In San Diego County everyone arrested for a DUI  goes to jail and has to make bail or wait for their arraignment.   Posting bail for a DUI is $2,500. for a 1st offense.   23152(a)VC is a misdemeanor and the arraignment will be in about 6 weeks if you bail out of jail prior to the arraignment.    If you’re unable to make bail the arraignment is within 3 court days which could be longer if there’s a court holiday.   For example, you’re arrested on a Friday night.   The arraignment will be either Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.   With a court holiday the arraignmnet could be a day later.   So you could be in jail until Thursday if Monday was a court holiday.   About 6 days.   Look on the bright side….you’ll get credit for “time served.”

What’s the lesson you’re supposed to learn from Chapter 20?   The same lesson you’ve heard over and over and over again.   Don’t drink and drive because your judgment is impaired.   Have a Designated Driver with you or call a taxi cab to take you home.   In San Diego County if you’re pulled over by law enforcement and the officer determines that you’ve been drinking and driving you’re going to jail.   Plan on it.    To prevent being arrested for a DUI in San Diego County don’t drink and drive.   I know it sounds like a broken record but its true.    Before you go out to party for the evening establish a plan of how you’re going to get home safely.    Memorize a few phone numbers or write down a few phone numbers on your hand if you still think you can drink and drive home yourself.   When you’re arrested the phone numbers will come in handy so you can bail out of jail.   Its not “if” you’re arrested…………….its “when” you’re arrested.    Be safe.   Please don’t drink and drive.

Related You Tube Video’s:

http://youtu.be/DB9WxnfBILU  Emily’s Story.  Arrested for 2 DUI’s.

http://youtu.be/cgfCBeVctuA  Judge Jackie Glass of Swift Justice on Drinking and Driving.

http://youtu.be/se2tfB1nvFg  In jail and you don’t know any phone numbers?

Helpful links:

www.duiblog.com

www.duicentral.com

www.duisandiego.com

Chapter 19 / What? The Public Defender isn’t Free?

Contrary to what you’ve seen on TV the Public Defender is not free.   What happens if you don’t retain your own attorney before your arraignment?  When you arrive to the assigned courtroom the Public Defender will meet with you and briefly go over your charges and what deal the District Attorney or ( City Attorney in San Diego Superior Court for misdemeanors) are willing to make in exchange for your plea of guilty.   The Public Defender handling your arraignment has been assigned to that courtroom and will only represent you for this appearance.   If you decide to plead not guilty at your arraignment another Public Defender will be assigned to your case.

So how much will it cost for the services of a Public Defender?  The fee for the Public Defender is determined by the information you provide on the Financial Declaration.   You must sign this declaration under penalty of perjury.   The Financial Declaration form is available thru the San Diego Superior Court website and can be filled in online and then printed.  By using the PDF fillable form provided by the San Diego Superior Court website the finished product will be neat and easily read by the court.   The key is to make sure the court can read your form.    Every penny counts when it comes to determining your “disposable income.”

http://tinyurl.com/Financial-Declaration  

It is strongly suggested that you complete this form prior to your arraignment.   If you have access to a computer and printer complete the Financial Declaration form online and print out the form.   Don’t forget to bring the completed Financial Declaration with you to court.   Otherwise you will be given a blank Financial Declaration form and be expected to do the best you can to complete the document.   Going to court can be nerve racking and the thought of completing a Financial Declaration at this moment is just frightening to me.  I can’t remember how much I paid for my utilities last month.   Can you?   Take advantage of your time prior to your arraignment and complete the Financial Declaration.  You will benefit from having done your homework.  The amount you pay for the Public Defender is based on the income and expenses listed on your Financial Declaration.   The  fee is part of the “court costs”  determined on the last court appearance on your case and listed on your court document.

What happens if you have your own attorney?   You won’t need to complete the Financial Declaration if you have your own attorney. However, if you end up having to pay fines that need to be paid in monthly installments the court uses this form to determine your monthly payment amount.   Again, take your time.   Make sure every number on the page can be verified with statements and receipts.   The court will verify your information.   If you decide to make monthly installment payments be advised the court has several options for making payments and when the payments are due.   San Diego Superior Court does not have a COLLECTIONS DEPT.    There is no such thing as “oops, I’m sorry I was late on a payment to the San Diego Superior Court.”    Remove this from your consciousness.    By calling the court and making excuses it won’t help.   While the clerk is telling you “its ok, do the best you can”……..the BIG RED BUTTON is pushed.   Warrant for your arrest.    If you’re late on a payment start checking the Sheriff’s website for your name.   Give it a week…….you’ll be on the website.

http://apps.sdsheriff.net/warrant/waar.aspx

Oh my!  Warrant for my arrest.  OMG!  Now what do you do?   You have a few choices.  See Chapter 8 “The Cure for Warrants.”    You can call me and I can clear your warrant and get you back on court calendar.   Or you can call your attorney or Public Defender to request another court appearance to clear your warrant.   Bottom line on making mistakes with payments for fines to the court………don’t be late on a payment or you get to tell the judge why you were late.    Clerks can’t clear warrants.   Once you miss a payment its back to court.   So don’t be late on a payment.  You could end up hearing the doorbell ring at 7am on a Sunday morning and a Deputy Sheriff will be standing there with handcuffs waiting to take you back to jail.   And you’re going to jail in whatever you’re wearing at the time.   I’ve bailed people out in their pajama’s many times.    Don’t let this happen to you.

If you have appeared in court and the judge/commissioner has ordered you to pay a fine you may choose to pay the fine using one of the following options:

  • Online: (click Pay Fineto begin now). https://tops.sdcourt.ca.gov/TrafficMainMenu.htm
  • Automated Telephone System To Pay Fine:(619-906-5888)
  • Mail: Send a check or money order payable to “San Diego Superior Court” along with your Notice of Payment Due to the court address on the notice.
  • Fax: Fax completed Notice of Payment Due to the appropriate office location.
  • Express Drop Box: Most locations provide an Express Drop Box where you may submit your payment with the notice.
  • In Person: Appear at the appropriate office locationduring normal business hours.
  • Phone: Call the appropriate office location during normal business hours.

You may use a credit card for all of the methods of payment above.

Chapter 18 / To Blow or Not To Blow?

Every client I bail out of jail for a DUI asks me the same question.  “Should I have blown or not?”   I’m not a lawyer and I cannot give legal advice.  The choice to blow is a subjective question that only you can answer.  Making the decision to drive after drinking is an impaired decision.   The thought process to blow or not to blow is also impaired.   Let’s make up a scenario and try to walk through it together.    You go out to dinner with friends and have a few drinks.  You ate some food and its been a few hours since your last drink.   You’re thinking driving shouldn’t be a problem since you’re only a few miles from your home.    The clock starts ticking when you enter your vehicle, place the keys in the ignition, turn on the vehicle and then start driving.    You’re fair game for a police officer to pull you over and conduct a sobriety test which may include blowing in a Breathalyzer to determine your BAC (Blood  Alcohol Concentration).   If you’ve never taken a sobriety test or seen it conducted on TV or in a movie it’s very difficult when you’re impaired.    The police officer will ask you to touch your nose, walk in a straight line or maybe say the alphabet backwards.   The Breathalyzer test has been added to help law enforcement in making a determination of what your BAC is at the time of your arrest.   In California it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08% or more, .04% for commercial vehicle drivers and .01% if the driver is under 21.

What are your choices in California when you’re pulled over by law enforcement?   Each time a Californian renews their driver’s license with the DMV (Dept of Motor Vehicles) a driver is required to confirm and agree to the following disclosure:

I agree to submit to a chemical test of my blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining the alcohol or drug content of my blood when testing is requested by a peace officer acting in accordance with Vehicle Code 23137 or 23157.

I understand that if I’m under 21 years of age, I cannot legally drive with a BAC of .01% or more.  Driving with a BAC of .01% or more, refusing to take, or failing to complete an alcohol screening or drug test, results in a one-year suspension of my driving privilege.

I understand that the DMV will add convictions reported by other states/ licensing authorities to my driving record, which may result in sanctions against my California driving privilege pursuant to the applicable sections of the California Vehicle Code.

If you refuse to blow and have your blood drawn you’re going to jail because the blood test results won’t be available until the date of the arraignment several weeks later.   If you blow in the Breathalyzer and your BAC is .08% or more you’re going to jail.   When you’re pulled over for a DUI plan on going to jail.  It’s just that simple.

As I Googled the reliability of Breathalyzer tests I noticed that many of the articles stated body temperature, environmental agents and body chemistry can effect the outcome of the test.

http://www.ehow.com/facts_6804751_reliability-breathalyzer-test.html

According to Lawrence Taylor, California DUI Attorney and Author,  he wrote on his blog, “Why Do Police Always Destroy Breathalyzer Evidence?”   Taylor’s website is packed with information, links to useful websites and a DUI video library.  Check it out.

http://www.duiblog.com/2011/12/19/why-do-police-always-destroy-breathalyzer-evidence/

Back to the original question.  Should I blow or not if I’m pulled over for a DUI?   Do your homework and read about the Breathalyzer test and then make the decision based on your interpretation of the equipment.

We don’t live in a perfect world and people make mistakes.  Drinking and driving is a mistake that will change your life forever.    When you see the red lights flashing in your rear view mirror there’s little time to think clearly how you’re going to handle this police officer.    By the time you’re pulled over and stepping out of your car for a sobriety test it’s too late to find a designated driver or take a taxi home.   The police officer will give you an opportunity to blow in the breathalyzer.   The decision to blow or not to blow is in your hands.   Only you know how much you had to drink.   The best way to avoid a DUI is don’t drink and drive.

When someone just can’t stop drinking and driving the next step is the Ignition Interlock Device.  A voluntary step to prevent a driver from operating their vehicle if their BAC is over the legal limit.  An impaired driver is a threat to themselves and public safety.   If you can’t stop drinking this might be your last chance before you lose your driving privileges.   Perhaps in the very near future the courts will mandate the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device after the first DUI conviction to make sure you can’t drive impaired again.

http://www.ignitioninterlockdevice.org

Judge Jackie Glass and her Swift Justice “Final Thoughts” on drinking and driving.  Thank you Judge Glass.

What are the most serious consequences of a DUI conviction?

Chapter 17 / Are Bail Bond Payment Plans a Good Idea?

Do you think bail bond payment plans are a good idea?  Back in the stone age when I got my Bail Agent license everyone charged the same amount and the premium was collected in full before we posted the bond.  This was the intent of bail in the first place to make sure the defendant would return to court for all the appearances.  That’s the way things used to work. Not anymore.  A handful of greedy bail bond agencies decided they were going to shake things up in hope of squeezing out all the little bail bond agencies.   The big bail bond agencies decided to offer payment plans.  Like buying furniture or a car on credit.   The only difference is the penalty for missing your payments.  Some of these bail bond agencies started sending out thugs in the dark of the night to show up at the homes of people who owed money on their bail bonds.  Dressed in combat clothing and armed with weapons.  Collection people harassing you with daily phone calls is nothing compared to armed thugs in combat gear at your door.  Imagine opening your front door and thugs demand that you pay for your bail bond or the defendant is going back to jail?  That’s right.  Going back to jail.  In some cases the thugs took the defendants back to their offices and held them there until someone paid the premium owed to the agency.   http://www.myvalleynews.com/story/51747/     

Criminal Complaint filed on September 14, 2011 against AJ’s Bail Bonds in Modesto, CA.    http://tinyurl.com/7zdzorl   

3 Bail Agents were being held on $2 Million bail for holding clients against their will for hours to extort additional payments from them according to the prosecutor in Stanislaus County Superior Court.  http://tinyurl.com/7cesqjm     

http://tinyurl.com/cftqqg4  In August, 2006 Steven Petrilli was charged with  murdering police officer Nick Birco.   Petrilli was out on 2 financed bail bonds. 

http://tinyurl.com/cy8beuk    First Degree Murder suspect Robert Dean Hall was able to bail out on a financed bail bond. 

Selami Ozdemir was able to post a no-money down $25,000. bail bond and within a few hours shot his wife to death and then killed himself.    http://tinyurl.com/7c877vo  

Still think payment plans are a good idea?  Many bail bond agencies charge excessive interest rates for bail bonds on payment plans.  I’ve heard of interest rates higher than credit card interest rates.  The interest on a bail bond is compounded daily or per annum.  Depending on the interest rate set by the bail bond agency the interest could be as much as double the premium for the bond.  Let’s say the bond is $50,000.  The Premium on this bond is $5,000.  At an 18% interest rate you could end up paying $15.000. for $5,000. in premium for your $50,000. bond.  You could have bought a car for the length of time it will take you to pay off this bond.   These bail bond agencies figure if you don’t have a credit card they can charge whatever interest rate they want because you have no choice.   If you want your loved one out of jail you’ll agree to just about anything.   All you want is to get your loved one out of jail and a simple down payment of $750 on a $50,000. bond with $5,000. premium sounds real tempting.   The “Walmart” of bail bond agencies uses this tactic on a daily basis.  Before you know it you’re signing documents for a payment plan that will last an eternity.  And they won’t let you out of this debt.  These bail bond agencies will sue you and get a judgment.  Their collection people will hound you until you agree to pay them off.  They will come to your home in the dark of the night to collect their money.    I’m willing to bet the case against your loved one will be over long before you ever finish making the payments on the bail bond premium.  The threat of returning your loved one back to jail is over once the bond is exonerated. Did you know a bail bond agency cannot return a defendant back to jail if the reason is unpaid premium.  This is a civil matter.  Therefore, any bail bond agency that threatens to return your loved one back to jail for failure to make payments on the premium is being dishonest.  What if you bail someone out of jail and agree to a lengthy payment plan and the case is rejected and not filed?  You’re still on the hook for the FULL premium + interest to the bail bond agency and the case was dropped by the court.  Too bad.  The bail bond agency still gets their money plus the interest you agreed to pay before the bond was posted.   So what happens if you stop making the payments once the case is over?  If the premium owed is $5,000 or less (in California) the bail bond agency can sue you in Small Claims Court or a TV court like @SwiftJusticeTV  http://swiftjustice.com .  A judge will more than likely rule in favor of the bail bond agency as long as they have documentation proving there was a contract for the full amount owed signed by both parties.  At this point you can expect a judgment against you for the money owed on the bail bond plus court costs which will affect your credit.  What a nightmare! What about public safety?   When a person charged with a violent felony charge or charges is released from jail on a bail bond where they paid next to nothing down…..how safe do you feel?   There have been several cases in the news where a defendant bailed out of jail with a small amount down and offended again.  Case in point Maurice Clemmons and 4 police officers are dead.   http://tinyurl.com/2ufrwsu

Pierce County Sheriff's Department mugshot of ...

How do you get your loved one out of jail if you can’t afford the premium on the bond?  If the bail amount is $25,000. the premium is $2,500.   Most bail bond agencies will require at least 50% down and allow you to make payments on the other half over a set time as long as the indemnitor owns a house.  The house will be used as collateral to insure the premium is paid and secure the bond.    Many bail bond agencies like Bail Bond Woman don’t charge interest on the premium owed on a bail bond.   Shop around until you find an agency that doesn’t charge interest.   The amount of money you save is worth your time.  What agencies should you avoid?

  • Avoid bail bond agencies that say  “ZERO DOWN”
  • Avoid bail bond agencies that say “little or nothing down”
  • Avoid bail bond agencies that say they offer “payment plans with low-interest rates”

What if you don’t have the 50% down required for the bond?   Wait until the arraignment and hope for a bail reduction.   If the bail isn’t reduced at the arraignment your attorney will request a Bail Review Hearing.  When the charges are serious the bail amounts are higher.   In some cases the bail is just too high and your loved one will have to stay in jail.  

Final thoughts on bail bond payment plans.  Buyer beware of payment plans that are too good to be true.  If you think the bail bond premium needs to be 10% and no discounts for any reason…. please write to your congressman.    If you think  bail bond agencies offering payment plans should be required to collect at least 50% down and collateral should be mandatory when making payments….. please write to your congressman.  If you think the premium should be collected and a contract signed before a bond is posted….please write to your congressman.  In San Diego we have bail bond agencies that post bail bonds with a simple phone call from the jail inmate.  On a promise to pay when they get out of jail.  I doubt the drafters of the 8th Amendment would be very happy with these bail bond agencies.   If you want to put a stop to this kind of freestyle posting of bail bonds…please write to your congressman.   A bill made its way around Sacramento on bail and payment plans a while back.  The bill was defeated because the lobbyists representing the big bail bond agencies and sureties made sure the law didn’t pass.   Still think payment plans are a good idea?

 

Chapter 16 / When is it Time to Step Up to the Plate?

Stepping up to the plate and admitting guilt before taking the time to speak to an attorney can have unforeseen consequences.   There’s a very fine line of when to take ownership of your actions once you’ve entered the criminal justice system .   When is it time to admit we made a mistake and we’re ready to suffer the consequences of our actions?    I will differ this one directly to your attorney that represents you in your criminal case.   

Growing up we were taught to take responsiblity when we make a mistake.   An example might be in 3rd grade you threw a ball into a neighbors window and broke the glass.   Do you run and hire an attorney before you admit you threw the ball that broke the window?  Probably not.  Would you tell your parents before going over to the neighbor’s house?   Maybe.   Having your parents doing the talking when you’re so young is always a good idea.   Parents always know the right words to say and make it seem like you knew the consequences of your actions.   And of course your parents will offer to pay for the repairs and guarantee you’re going to be punished.    Well, that’s kind of how the criminal justice system works with one huge exception.   As adults when we make a mistake that can result in criminal charges we don’t leave the scene to get our parents or an attorney.    For example, you’re driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and you hit some parked cars.   Leaving the scene to get your parents or attorney will lead to hit and run charges.  A felony.   Once laws are allegedly broken your actions are documented every step of the way by the arresting police officer in their police report.    This same arresting officer will give you an opportunity to give a voluntary statement about the charges you’ve been accused of at this point.   Now what do you do?  Step up to the plate and admit everything??  Think long and hard about everything you say and do from this point forward.    The arresting officer will place handcuffs on your wrists and drive you to the jail no matter what you say in your voluntary statement.    I hear all the time from my clients that police officers say it will help their case if they admit to the charges at the time of the arrest.    Have you ever seen that help in a criminal case you’ve seen on TV?    It’s a natural human response to just start talking when under stress.   Will the arresting officer add more charges if you don’t admit to the charges?  Doubtful.  I have heard from many attorneys they wish their clients had waited to talk about their case in the privacy of their offices.  The problem with hindsight is…. its hindsight.  

No one can tell you what to do when its 3am and you’re standing on the side of the road doing a sobriety test with a police officer.   The key is be prepared for anything that happens in your life.   How can you prepare for getting arrested?   Does that sound absolutely ridiculous?   We didn’t have this class in high school.   Maybe we need this class taught in high school so our young adults understand the consequences of their actions.   I’ve put together a short list of things to have with you when you’re arrested:

  1. You need to memorize at least one phone number of a friend or family member to bail you out.
  2. Write phone numbers on your hand before the arresting officer takes away your cell phone.
  3. Before the arresting officer bags up your property make sure your wallet with your Debit or Credit Card is in the bag going with you to the jail.
  4. Try to remember the name of the arresting officer and the location of the arrest if your car is left at the scene.
  5. When the officer asks you to give a voluntary statement remember its VOLUNTARY
  6. Once in custody stay focused on getting out of custody as soon as possible to properly prepare to defend yourself against the charges brought against you.   
  7. The advice attorneys always give their criminal case clients is don’t discuss your case with anyone except them. 

Back to the original question.  Is there ever a time to admit you broke the law and take ownership of your actions?   Listen to your attorney that represents you in your criminal case.    That’s why you have an attorney.   Their job is to protect you and make sure you understand the charges and the consequences of owning the charges brought against you.

Chapter 15 / How to Select a Bail Bond Agency

A bail bond agency calls to bail out your loved one.    How do you know the caller is really calling from a bail bond agency?  Ask the caller for their first and last name.  Ask them to spell their name.  In California licensed Bail Agents can be found on the California Dept of Insurance website.   http://tinyurl.com/rbkwvn    

If the person calling you is a licensed California Bail Agent their name and license number will be on this website.  You can see the name of their bail bond agency and how long they’ve been in business.    

What if your loved one calls you from jail and requests that you bail them out?  How do you find a bail bond agency?  Go to a website such as (Yellow Pages)  www.yp.com and type in bail bonds for the city and state where you live.  Keep in mind if you do a Google search the bail bond agencies that will be listed on the first page paid thousands of dollars to be there and may not even have an office in the city where you live.    Chances are you’re calling a large agency with an answering service that will forward your call to an agent hundreds or thousands of miles away.    Do you really want this kind of service?    I doubt it.

San Diego County Jails have a card in each jail cell with the names of all the bail bond agencies that belong to the Bail Agents Association of San Diego County.     Each agency has been thoroughly checked and must meet certain criteria to be on this card.   The bail bond agencies on the jail cards must have an office in San Diego County,  the owner of the agency must be a licensed Bail Agent in California and a member of the association in good standing.  The employees of agencies that belong to the association must be licensed Bail Agents in California.   These jail cards are updated each year.     

How do you know if the bail bond agency is a good agency?    When you’re trying to bail someone out of jail every minute counts and you don’t have very much time for a thorough investigation.   Here’s a list of a few things you should look for before making your choice.

1. Do they have a website?   Go to their website.   Is their Insurance License prominently displayed on their website?   

By law in California licensed Bail Agents must have their license number on all advertising.  Including business cards, websites and phone book ads.

2.  Is the agency listed on www.YP.com or www.Yelp.com ?  Customer Reviews on Yelp are filtered by their staff.   Do  the Customer Reviews appear to be written by real customers?    Look at the dates on the reviews.  Read the names of the people that wrote the reviews.   Real customers won’t use their real names for a bail bond.  Many people will make up a nickname.  If they were all written within a few days or weeks they’re probably fake.  Duplicate reviews by the same name usually indicates a fake review.    Don’t be fooled by agencies that try to move up in rankings on search engines with fake customer reviews.    Most people can tell if the customer review is fake and written by the agency.

3.  Look for experience.   A Bail Agent licensed for over 10 years is a good sign. 

4.  Just because a bail bond agency spends thousands of dollars on advertising doesn’t make it a good agency.   Do you think because they have a full-page ad in the Yellow Pages they’re a good agency?    Not necessarily.    What kind of service do you think you’re going to get with a big bail bond agency that has TV commercials, radio commercials,  billboards, bus stop benches, full-page ads in the phone books?     Chances are pretty good their phones are ringing off the hook and they have a minimal number of people working in their office juggling phone calls and bonds.   The person that negotiates a bond must be licensed.   How many licensed agents do you think work between Midnight and 8am?   Whose the loser?   The person in jail getting short-changed because their time in jail is increased while the big bail bond agency is trying to handle their phone calls and people coming into their offices to be processed.       Still think bigger is always better?

5.  Beware of bail bond agencies that offer to discount or undercut other agencies to get your business.   Each bail bond agency in California has a rate filing and in most cases the premium is 10% of the total bail amount.     If an agency offers to write a bond for 5% or less be careful.   The agent may not be licensed or is willing to lose their license to get your business.   Any bail bond agency that charges less than their rate filing is breaking the law.    If you know the premium is being discounted and you get caught the consequences will be severe for the agent, the agency and you as the client.    The agent could lose their license, be arrested and pay a fine.    The defendant could be taken back into custody and the bail could be enhanced as a result of this criminal act.       The client could be subject to criminal charges of conspiracy to commit fraud.    Trying to save money with a bail bond is a big mistake.     The California Dept of Insurance is actively investigating bail bond agencies advertising “little or nothing down.”     Buyer beware.    

6.  Back to the California Dept of Insurance website.   http://tinyurl.com/rbkwvn     Look carefully at all the information about the agency.   Look at the address of the agency.   Length of time they’ve been in business is important.   Look at the number of Sureties that have appointed this agent or agency.    This is another red flag.    If you see an agent or agency jumping from Surety to Surety that would be a red flag.     Why do they need to keep changing Sureties?  (a Surety is the insurance company that underwrites the bail bonds for the agent or agency).

7.  Make sure the bail bond agency that you call actually has an agent that lives in the city where your loved one is in custody.   And not just a “posting agent.”    Definition of posting agent is a person that merely takes the bond to the jail.  You won’t have any interaction with this person.   Many bail bond agencies claim to have offices all over California.  When in fact they’re in L.A. or even outside of California and using fake phone numbers with area codes for your city.  Another clue about a bail bond agency that operates in one city and claims to be EVERYWHERE is the information they tell you.  Did the agency tell you they were in contact with the jail in San Diego?  Or they need to gather information from the jail?    This is “double talk” for scrambling to find someone to post the bond for them in San Diego.    The San Diego County Jails are set up to be “user friendly” for the general public, attorneys and bail bond agencies.    Everything you need to know can be found on the San Diego Sheriff’s website.     www.sdsheriff.net   Check the Sheriff’s website yourself.  The process is 4-10 hours before an inmate is cleared for a bond and eligible for release in most cases.   No smoke and mirrors in San Diego.     A bail bond agency in Los Angeles has no idea how we operate in San Diego and will keep feeding you misinformation while they scramble to find someone to post your bond.   If that’s the kind of business you’re looking for I wish you luck.   Most people prefer working with a licensed Bail Agent from start to finish.   Not a drive through bail bond agency where you pay your money and hope when you call them again they know you and something about your case.   

 When you call Bail Bond Woman you’re getting a California licensed Bail Agent since 1996.    I physically live in San Diego and when you call Bail Bond Woman you’re speaking to the actual Bail Agent that will go to the San Diego County Jail and meet your loved one.    Not a posting agent that will post the bond and leave.     The relationship starts with a bail bond and doesn’t end until the case is closed.    Visit my website  www.bailbondwoman.net   you will see my license number is prominently displayed.     If you click on this link    http://tinyurl.com/4y3pukz  you can see my name, address, how long I’ve been licensed and the dba Bail Bond Woman was approved in 1998.      I was appointed by Safety National Casualty Corporation in 2002.    Read the Customer Reviews  http://tinyurl.com/5twcudw     The customers that wrote these reviews wanted others to know the type of service you can expect when you call Bail Bond Woman.   

The trauma of learning your loved one has been arrested is overwhelming.   Having to deal with an inferior bail bond agency is the last thing you need at this difficult time.    Do your homework before you decide what bail bond agency to use.

Chapter 14 / Immigration Hold Disaster

You just visited the Sheriff’s website and found your loved one in jail.    http://tinyurl.com/sdjail 

When you see the name of your loved one,  click on the name to see a pop up window with the Inmate Detail.    Go down the page to the bail information.   If  you see “Not Eligible for Release” this means the inmate is still being processed.    From the time an inmate arrives to the time they clear could take 4-10 hours on average.     Once the inmate clears the bail information will change to “Eligible for Release” and the bail amount will be displayed.   What happens if the inmate isn’t eligible for release? What if there’s a HOLD placed on the inmate?    What causes a Hold?    Violation of Parole or Probation can cause a Hold on an inmate.  You might see “State Parole Hold” on the inmate detail.   These inmates cannot be bailed out.

What about an Immigration Hold?      If an inmate cannot prove they are in the United States legally the “ICE” or Immigration Customs Enforcement officer assigned to each San Diego County Jail has the authority to place a hold on an inmate until the court either releases the hold or the inmate is taken to a Federal Detention facility and goes through further proceedings to decide if the inmate will be deported, held or released.     During the past year the number of Immigration Holds have increased due to the fact that ICE Agents are placed at each San Diego County Jail 7 days a week and 24 hours per day.   Every inmate is screened for documents which prove they’re in the U.S. legally or haven’t violated the Visa Waiver they signed when they entered the U.S. agreeing not to break any laws while in the U.S. as a guest of this country.   Visit the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security website for more information about the Visa Waiver Program.     

http://tinyurl.com/3tr64vl 

Most people think that an Immigration Hold is something placed on a person that entered this country illegally.   Times have changed.   A student visiting from a foreign country or someone here for a vacation could find themselves in a San Diego County Jail with an Immigration Hold placed on them by merely getting arrested.     One might think a simple charge for a DUI is no big deal but you’re wrong.    If you’re a U.S. Citizen it’s a $2,500. bail for your first DUI and you’re out of jail.   If you’re here as a visitor in the U.S. it’s a $2,500 bail and an Immigration Hold placed on you because you violated the Visa Waiver you signed upon entering the U.S.    Your vacation just became your worst nightmare.    Getting arrested for a DUI has a domino effect.   If you were driving a rental car it was just towed to a storage facility for about $350 and add about $35+ per day until your rental car company retrieves it since they’re the registered owners.    Your hotel room could be a problem if you fail to return and check out on time.    Your belongings will hopefully be stored and not lost.   You can’t call home unless you know the phone numbers since they take your cell phone away from you and its an International Collect Call which will be very expensive if someone answers your call.   If you’re a student you risk being deported and kicked out of school.   Not to mention if you’re here on vacation you might miss your flight home and incur more expenses.     As you can see this has all the makings of a disaster no one ever anticipates or knows how to handle.

Can you post a bail bond for someone with an Immigration Hold?  Yes, you can post a bail bond for someone with an Immigration Hold but be aware that ICE has 48 court hours (weekends and holidays don’t count) to pick up the inmate.    If ICE doesn’t pick up the inmate (rarely) within that time period the inmate will be released out on bond.     So even though you posted a bail bond the inmate won’t be released directly from the San Diego County Jail unless ICE decides not to pick them up.    If ICE picks up the inmate from a San Diego County Jail the premium was contractually earned by the Surety for the bail bond because they were technically released from the San Diego County Jail.    Once the inmate is at a Federal Detention facility the decision to deport, release or hold the inmate is made through Immigration proceedings.  The bail bond posted for this inmate has future court date(s) for the San Diego Superior Court.   If the inmate is being held in a Federal Detention facility they cannot appear at their Superior Court proceedings.   The bail bond will forfeit and the person responsible for the bond will have to pay for any and all fees agreed to when the bond was written.  Such as court fees for the forfeiture of the bail bond and even the full amount of the bond if it goes to Summary Judgment.   If the inmate is ultimately deported the documentation from Immigration must be obtained in a timely fashion to exonerate the bond upon a motion to the court.     As you can see the situation is a gamble and could end up being very costly for the person taking financial responsibility for a bond with an Immigration Hold.    It would be in your best interest to consult with an attorney who has knowledge about immigration law before you decide to post a bail bond for someone with an Immigration Hold.

So what do you do if you can’t afford the bail bond and your loved one is stuck in a San Diego County Jail with an Immigration Hold placed on them?   Put money on their books via the San Diego Sheriff’s website:    http://tinyurl.com/3wtwbc2

The maximum deposit to an inmate’s account is $500.  Everything can be done online through the above link.  Gift Packs can be sent to inmates through this link as well.   Email the inmate once per day and buy prepaid debit cards so they can make phone calls without calling collect.     If you have someone in San Diego the inmate can have Social Visits which can be scheduled online through the Sheriff’s website.   Track the inmate through the Inmate Detail for court appearances and any changes in their bail amount and hold status.     When you no longer see this inmate in custody on the Sheriff’s website it usually means they’ve either been released or taken by ICE to a Federal Detention facility.      To check the Federal Detention facility for Immigration Inmates you need the number off the Sheriff’s website Inmate Detail at the bottom of the page next to the Immigration Hold.    The number you need starts with the letter “A” which is the immigration case number assigned to this inmate.     Call  800-973-2867 to check on the Immigration status.    Being there supporting your loved one is the best thing you can do until the case can be resolved.

Related Article:  Immigration Detainment Policy   http://tinyurl.com/3l7wf47

Chapter 13 / To Bail or Not To Bail?

So comfortable in your bed.   Sound asleep dreaming about winning Mega Millions.    And then…the annoying sound of your phone awakens you at 3am.   Who could be calling me at 3am?   You answer the phone and I tell you that your son or daughter is in jail and they need your help.     Your first response is shock.   No parent ever wants to get “that call” and be told their child is in jail.  I’m referring to a child that’s at least 18 years old.   A child arrested under 18 years old would be at Juvenile Hall.  I receive calls from San Diego County Jails where the inmates are a minimum of 18 years old and considered adults.   In the big scheme of things I’d rather be telling a parent their child is in jail versus the County Medical Examiner calling to have them identity their child’s dead body.     Once the first shock is over most parents want to get their child out of jail.   If the bail is too high read Chapter 12 about Bail Reduction.    Perhaps the bail amount is affordable but you believe the “jail experience” will be good for your child as a valuable lesson.  Tough love.   Think long and hard about this decision…..”to bail or not to bail?”

A defendant only gets one shot at a first impression.    When a defendant comes into the court wearing a jail suit with handcuffs with a reasonable bail amount set this generally communicates to the court this person has no support.   No means for bailing out of jail.   Possibly no friends or family in San Diego.  Maybe this man or woman is homeless and has no job.    Or they’re a flight risk and friends and family believe they won’t return for future court appearances and that’s why no one bailed them out.   We can story this one all day long.   When I see a defendant standing before the judge with a bail amount which is reasonably affordable and still in custody I see a red flag.    When a defendant walks into the courtroom in their own clothes with their family and friends in tow,  the message is strong that this person has support.  Being able to appear in court out on bail sets a totally different tone to the judge and District Attorney.    I’ve learned over the years from listening to attorneys that they would rather represent a client out of jail versus one in jail.    A defendant presents themselves better out of jail.

Back to the original question.   Your child is in jail and you can’t decide if you should bail them out of jail.    Your child knew better but still made an “error in judgment” and got arrested.  Do you really want your child in jail with real criminals?   People arrested for serious crimes and that would love to take your child under their wing and teach them some new tricks.   Getting arrested is very serious no matter what the charges and given an opportunity to bail out of jail is a gift that shouldn’t be overlooked.   Leaving your child in jail to teach them a lesson may sound good in theory but the risk is on the table for the bail amount to be increased, decreased or stay the same if the case is filed at the arraignment.     A defendant must stay in custody throughout their case if there’s a bail amount set.    Depending on the charges the case could take several weeks to several months.   Which creates another problem for communicating with your loved one.    The telephone calls are expensive from the jails and the calls are recorded.    See Chapter 11.

So when you get that call at 3am and you can’t decide if you should leave your child in jail or bail them out, think about the ramifications of leaving them in jail.    It’s about how you present yourself in court.  Dressed in your own clothes or in a jail suit?   May sound like no big deal but wearing your own clothes and out on bail versus Smurf suit and handcuffs sends a powerful message to the court.     A defendant must demonstrate credibility and trustworthiness with their deeds and actions.      Bailing out of jail and returning to court for each court appearance on time is the first step in demonstrating trustworthiness.  Actions speak louder than words when it comes to criminal justice.

Chapter 12 / Bail Reduction

What happens when the bail is too high and you simply cannot afford to bail out of jail?    Most charges involving child endangerment, threat of great bodily injury or death will carry very high bail amounts.   High bail amounts are usually upwards from $100,000. to $1 million.   In cases involving death the court may order a $0 bail until the defendant makes the first court appearance.     The intent being to make sure the defendant will return to court and face the charges brought against them.       

Let’s use the example of a DUI with bodily injury which is a felony.   The bail is $100,000.    In order to bail out of jail prior to the arraignment the defendant would need to come up with the 10% of the bail amount which is $10,000.     What if you don’t have $10,000.?    Without the ability to post bail a defendant must stay in jail until the case comes to some closure.   What if the bail amount was lowered to something the defendant could afford?    The terminology is BAIL REDUCTION.     How do you get a bail reduction?    First you need an attorney to appear before the court on your behalf.     The attorney is either your own attorney or the public defender.   The request for a Bail Review Hearing is usually discussed at the arraignment or the first appearance by a defendant before the court.     In some cases the subject of the bail amount is discussed during the arraignment and there’s a possibility the bail will be reduced prior to a Bail Review Hearing.    Here’s a list of factors the court considers when discussing a reduction of bail:

  • Has the defendant lived in San Diego County for a substantial amount of time?
  • Is the defendant a “flight risk?”
  • Criminal record for prior convictions?
  • Has the defendant ever been out on bail and failed to appear?
  • Does the defendant have a job?
  • Does the defendant have family ties to San Diego County?
  • Will this defendant be a threat or pose danger to the community if released on bail?

Family members are encouraged to be present in the courtroom during court appearances which demonstrates support.      The judge will take everything into consideration before making a ruling on the bail amount.      

How do you find an attorney experienced in criminal law and bail reductions?  Your favorite search engine or website for listings of criminal defense attorneys.     If you cannot afford your own attorney the public defender will represent a defendant in custody.     A Bail Review Hearing is scheduled upon request for every criminal case where the defendant is in custody and cannot afford to bail out of jail.    

When the bail amount is just too high and the defendant must stay in custody the best thing a family can do to help their loved one is continue to communicate with them and offer support.

  • Attend your loved ones court appearances
  • Send an email once a day
  • Schedule Social Visits
  • Purchase Prepaid Calling Cards to save on collect calls
  • Put money on the books so they can purchase items in the commissary

Useful links:

San Diego County Sheriff Website:    www.sdsheriff.net

Bail Bond Woman Website:  www.bailbondwoman.net      Click on USEFUL LINKS and click on “Who’s in Jail”   Type in the last name and first name of your loved one and their name will appear.  Click on their name and an Inmate Detail will appear.  In the middle of the page you will see links to the Email, schedule social visits, add money to their books for purchases in the commissary and  other useful information.    At the bottom of the page you will see the bail information, charges and court information.

Chapter 11 / Collect Calls From Jails

Inside most  jail cells at San Diego County Jails are 2 phones.   One phone is for calls in the 619 area code.   An inmate can call any phone number with a 619 area code as long as the phone is working.    Free phones break all the time.   Wonder why?  Inmates break the free phones for whatever reason.    The only other phone is for collect calls.    The collect call phone is for any calls outside the 619 area code.   Even though 858 and 760 are area codes in San Diego County the calls are outside the 619 area code and are therefore collect.   Why?  I don’t understand why inmates can’t call area codes inside San Diego County without calling collect.    Cell phones cannot receive collect calls unless you set up an account with PCS.    At  888-288-9879.   Have your credit or debit card ready.     The process takes a short time and once the PCS account is set up collect calls from the jails can be received on your cell phone.      If you would like to set up an account for the inmate using the PCS DailyDebit calling plan click on this link:   

  http://tinyurl.com/6j54l5l   

Additional funds can be added thru the commissary to the inmates account so they can make prepaid calls to you rather than the more expensive collect calls.

Now that you understand how these phones work let me tell you a little more information about these phones.   Each time you receive a call from the PCS Collect Call phone a recording comes on telling you the call is being recorded.   Let me repeat myself.   THE CALLS ARE RECORDED.    Each time an inmate makes a call using this phone they must enter their booking number.    The booking number is attached to each call.    Let’s put the puzzle together.    The collect calls are recorded.   The booking number of the inmate will be attached to the collect call.   The recordings of all calls are accessible by the Sheriff and the District Attorney’s office.     San Diego Criminal Defense Attorneys have complained about the calls being recorded even when they’re speaking with their clients in custody at San Diego County Jails.     When someone is in jail most of their rights are taken away.  You want privacy?  Don’t get arrested.   Avoid discussing your case while in custody.  

The cost of collect calls from San Diego County Jails is a pet peeve of mine.    Recently I noticed on my own monthly bill a charge of $2.49 for a Billing Statement Fee.     ILD Services handles the collect calls thru PCS in San Diego County Jails.    Each month if you take ONE collect call from a San Diego County Jail you will see a charge on your phone bill for $2.49 for the luxury of having it on your phone bill.    Then the usual taxes and regulatory fees plus the charge for the calls.    A collect call from San Diego County Jail is $1.00 per minute.      A DOLLAR PER MINUTE!!!     This is insane.     First its insane to make an inmate call collect to a bail bond agency to arrange bail.  Since when does a retail store pay to talk to a customer that may or may not use their services?    Many bail bond agencies cannot afford to take these calls which leaves the inmate using the big agencies that seem to have a monopoly on the bail bond business in San Diego.     The smaller bail bond agencies like myself offer a better service for the clients because we’re not juggling 50 calls at the same time and making people sit on hold or forget to call them back because we’re too busy.     Mom and Pop bail bond agencies serve a purpose and the collect calls from the San Diego County Jails are going to run them into the ground.     Now that I’ve talked about the collect calls to bail bond agencies……how about the families and friends?     A mother and father that want to speak to their child in jail must endure these excessively high charges from PCS.    A dollar a minute.    The average call to negotiate a bail bond is about 20 to 30 minutes.   That translates into $25-$30 for one phone call.    How about relatives and friends of people in jail?     The charges can go into the thousands of dollars if they can’t afford to bail them out of jail.    We’re all penalized for the arrest.     We didn’t commit a crime but we’re being penalized.  

The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads:  “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” 

Requiring an inmate to arrange a bail bond while the calls are recorded is unusual punishment in my opinion.   When you go to the bank to apply for a loan are your conversations recorded?     I doubt it.    This is a very personal matter and I don’t believe the District Attorney or the Sheriff should be allowed to hear your confidential conversation with your Bail Agent.    Furthermore, I do not believe an inmate should have to pay to speak to a Bail Agent.   The bail bond agencies are allowed to pass on the cost of the collect calls to the client.     The extra charges can be in excess of $30 to $50 depending how many times inmates call the bail bond agency while they’re confused why they’re still in jail after 14 hours or more.     The booking and release process at Central Jail can exceed 20+ hours in some cases and inmates become very paranoid about whether they’re going to bail out or not.    So inmates call over and over to find out what’s taking so long.     More calls and more dollars wasted.    PCS is enjoying high profits from all the calls coming from our jails.    Back in 1996 when I started working as a Bail Agent all the calls in 619 area code were FREE until the inmate moved into General Population.    This gave inmates plenty of time to use the phone and arrange bail.    Part of the problem is the number of inmates inside a jail cell trying to use the single free phone.   If an inmate takes too long all the rest of the inmates suffer.      When the free phones break this is a huge problem for everyone.    

Do you have any phone numbers memorized?   Most people have become so attached to their Smart Phones and everything is on speed dial.    People don’t dial their phones anymore.     Merely touching the name dials the call.    See if you can write down the phone number of 3 people you would call if you got arrested?  I bet most people can’t complete this task.    The jails take your cell phone and the rest of your personal property and bag it up when you’re booked in.    No phone.   No numbers memorized.    Oh what to do….what to do???    So you look at the list of bail bond agencies.    Oh….the FREE phone is broken in your cell.    Now you must use the collect call phone.    The phone is very confusing.   You must enter your booking number and then say your name.    If you don’t say your name clearly most bail bond agencies won’t take your call.    So you call another bail bond agency and another.    You finally get through to a bail bond agency and you say “I don’t know any phone numbers of anyone that can bail me out of jail.”   CLICK.      Many bail bond agencies will hang up on you.    Cell phone numbers are not listed like landline numbers.   Most people don’t have landlines anymore.    Looks like you’re going to stay at the jail for a while if you don’t know any phone numbers or have enough money for the bond to bail yourself out.   

Here’s my personal recommendations for how we can fix this problem.    

1.  Allow inmates to write down at least 3 phone numbers from their cell phone before the arresting officer bags up the property.       

2.  Allow inmates usage of the free phones until they’re moved into General Population.     Allow the bail bond agencies the ability to negotiate bail bonds without having the calls recorded or be forced to pay the excessively high cost of collect calls.    The transaction is confidential and should not be recorded for any reason.  Calls to Clergy are not recorded.    ???

3. Many jails and prisons in California have a set fee for calls.    Like a 15 minute call is a flat fee of $3.50.   This is far more reasonable than $1 per minute plus the Monthly Statement Fee of $2.49 and the taxes and regulatory fees.

Chapter 10 / Don’t Mess With Judges

The judge.   The person in the black robe.   The person with the power to make your life a living Hell if you break the rules of the court.    The judge has the power to make your life miserable with the stroke of his/her pen.    If you think you can get through the court system without following the rules plan on going back to jail.  

Here’s a true story of what happened to a defendant who was late for court.     The defendant was out on bail and was scheduled for court.   The charge was a misdemeanor.   The court appearance was for a Jury Trial which made it even more important to be at the court on time.   A panel of jurors were scheduled to be at this courtroom.   These people are taking time away from their jobs and daily routines to do their jury duty.    When it was determined the defendant was a no show the judge forfeited the bail bond, issued a Bench Warrant and tripled the bail amount.    The defendant arrived 45 minutes late.   By this time the judge wasn’t going to reverse his order.   The judge remanded the defendant back into custody.   In other words back to jail.    The judge was confident the defendant would be on time the next day.   He was correct.   The defendant assumed the court appearance would be made the next day and then be released that evening.   Unfortunately the situation didn’t play out that way.    This defendant remained in custody for over a week.   The moral of the story is be on time or you could go back to jail and remain in custody until your case comes to some closure if you cannot afford to bail out again.   The judge had the ability to reverse the order but decided he needed to teach this defendant a lesson.    This could happen to you if you’re late for court.

Here’s a list of things you need to know about courtroom rules:

  1. Be on time to the assigned courtroom
  2. Cell phones must be turned off 
  3. No food, drinks or chewing gum
  4. No hats
  5. No weapons
  6. No tank tops or t-shirts (wear a shirt over your t-shirt or tank)
  7. You must wear shoes

One more thing……never leave the court without your documents.   This is your only proof you were at the court.   The court document has your name, case number, charges and future court appearance information.    You need this piece of paper.   If you leave the court without this document you were never there in the eyes of the court.

The judges in San Diego County do their very best to be consistent with each person that comes before them.    By following the simple rules of the court you should be able to get thru this chapter in your life.    Break the rules and you will find yourself back in jail.     Don’t mess with San Diego Judges.

Chapter 9 / Busted for Drugs

The last words anyone ever wants to hear from a police officer is “you’re under arrest for possession of a narcotic or controlled substance.”   This is more than a “game changer” because this will change your life forever.    A FELONY conviction on your record is going to affect every job application you complete.   Your DNA will be in the Criminal Justice records.   You will be assigned a CII number  (Criminal Investigation Identification number) for the rest of your life.    If that isn’t scary enough you might end up doing time in jail.   In hindsight did you really think you could purchase controlled substances in San Diego and stay under the radar screen?    San Diego has some of the best undercover police officers in the country.    They blend in with the people who like to hang out in some of the most popular places in San Diego…..like the Gas Lamp and Pacific Beach bars.   If someone offers to sell you drugs……JUST SAY NO!      Buying drugs from an undercover police officer will be a guaranteed free trip to San Diego County Jail.    Don’t be tempted by the Dark Side young Skywalker.    Darth Vader lives in San Diego and is masquerading as an undercover cop just waiting to ruin your life.    Don’t be tempted to buy anything from someone you don’t know.   Especially something illegal.   San Diego has a problem with people using illegal drugs and  Sheriff Gore has made illegal use of prescription drugs and DUI‘s a top priority.    The jail lobby’s in San Diego have drop boxes for prescription drugs no longer being used or needed.    What more do you need to know?     We have a serious problem with illegal prescription drug use in our little town.     Let’s see…..what are the top 5 drugs of choice for those unable to get them the old fashion way….by going to the doctor and needing them prescribed for a medical condition.   Hmmmmm….what could they be??

  1. Vicodin
  2. Xanax
  3. Soma
  4. Adderall
  5. Oxycontin

Ok.   I’m not going to lecture you on the pro’s and con’s of doing recreational drugs.   I’m going to tell you recreational drugs will ruin your life.   Especially if you get arrested for possession of a controlled substance.    Even worse if the quantity is more than “personal use” the charge will be possession of a controlled substance for sale.    Now you’re in real trouble.   Don’t do drugs or sell them.    Just because your friends are doing drugs doesn’t mean you need to do them too.   The mature adult is the person that knows doing recreational drugs is dangerous and stupid.   How many celebrities are in rehab right now for doing illegal drugs?   How many have died?   Don’t be a statistic. 

Did you know the charge 23152(a)VC is for a DUI which stands for under the influence of alcohol or DRUGS.   If you’re taking a controlled substance without a prescription and driving a vehicle the result will be the same if you were drinking and driving.    You can be pulled over by a police officer and given a sobriety test and possibly searched for possession of an illegal drug.    When the officer finds a controlled substance or narcotic in your possession without a prescription the arrest and trip to San Diego County Jail is a sure thing.  

If you’re reading this chapter it’s probably because you got arrested for possession of a controlled substance.    So now what do you do?     A criminal defense attorney in San Diego told me a long time ago the best thing a person can do when they’re arrested is keep your mouth shut.    Talk to your attorney and the two of you will figure out a plan of action.     Depending on the amount of the drug you had in your possession or under the influence of this drug will determine how the District Attorney will proceed.     We’ve been very blessed to have Bonnie Dumanis as our District Attorney for the past 7 years.    Dumanis was an attorney and a judge before she was elected to District Attorney.   Due to some tragic personal issues Dumanis has personal knowledge of the dangers of using drugs and the need for rehabilitation.    When she became a judge she started the Drug Court in San Diego.   Giving our community an opportunity to get rehabilitation instead of going straight to jail to do time.   The Drug Court has been successful in helping our citizens turn their lives around for the better.     The moral of the story is if you’re using drugs and you’re addicted to drugs get help.    The right thing to do is look in the mirror and say to yourself…”I have a problem with drugs and I need help.”     Once you reach this point help will be on its way.

What about the person arrested for possession of a controlled substance or narcotic and it wasn’t their drugs?    I’ve had clients that were riding in a vehicle and pulled over by a police officer.     When the officer couldn’t determine ownership of the drugs everyone in the vehicle was arrested and the mystery was resolved in court.     Let your attorney advise you on how to handle this situation.     The best thing you can do is refrain from discussing the case with anyone except your attorney.    

The best way to avoid being arrested for possession or under the influence of a controlled substance or narcotic is never do them or buy them.     Before you make that purchase or swallow a pill think about the consequences of your actions.    Do you really want to spend the next few years urinating in a cup to see if you’re clean?   Do you want your 4th Amendment rights taken away from you?   (Law enforcement can search you anytime without the need for a Search Warrant)  Are you prepared to go to jail for a very long time?    Every time you complete a job application that question will be there…..HAVE YOU EVER BEEN CONVICTED OF A FELONY?    Don’t let this happen to you.

Avoid the people in your life that do illegal drugs.    When you change your circle of friends the ability to stay clean is much easier.    It’s not cool to do drugs.   Take it one day at a time.

Chapter 8 / The Cure for Warrants

What causes warrants?    The best way to answer this question is something went wrong with your criminal case.     If your case was filed as a felony you are required to be at each court appearance.    Failing to appear in court will trigger a  BENCH WARRANT  for your arrest.    The judge can set a higher bail for you or a NO BAIL WARRANT can be issued for your arrest.   The severity of the warrant will depend on your charges, the case and input from the District Attorney.    For active warrants issued in San Diego County check the San Diego Sheriff’s website:

http://apps.sdsheriff.net/warrant/waar.aspx

Other types of warrants can be issued for failure to complete something in your plea agreement at sentencing of your case.    Such as taking classes for a DUI or drug case conviction.    Failing to do your community service.    Failure to show the court in the time period alloted completion of classes.     Contrary to what you may have thought about the County of San Diego we do not have a Collections Dept.     Making payments for fines is a very serious matter.    Failing to pay your monthly payment on time will trigger a warrant for your arrest.    This will give you an opportunity to see the judge again and explain why you didn’t make your monthly payment on time.    If you know you won’t be able to make a monthly payment on time the best thing you can do is contact the court rather than waiting for the Sheriff’s Deputy to show up at your door to arrest you on a warrant.

What’s a Fugitive Warrant?   A warrant issued outside of San Diego County for a case filed somewhere else and they want you to return to court to face the charges brought against you.      An example would be a felony case out of Oregon and they put the warrant into the NCIC system.    NCIC stands for National Crime Information Center which is a computerized index of criminal justice information.       When you’re arrested and the jail runs your fingerprints they’re running them through this computer system.    If a warrant pops up while in custody that information will be communicated to the county or agency that filed the warrant.     A HOLD can be placed on you while in custody giving them an opportunity to extradite you back to where the warrant was issued.  In this case back to Oregon.

What if your case wasn’t filed when you went to your arraignment?    The District Attorney for felonies and City Attorney in San Diego for misdemeanors has 12 months from the date of your arrest to file the case.    If the case isn’t filed within that 12 months it goes away.    At any time during the 12 months a letter may be sent to you if they changed their minds since your arraignment.     The Superior Courts in San Diego County will not forward mail to you if you’ve moved since your arrest.     The job of keeping the court notified of any change of address during the 12 months after your arrest is your responsibility.     Many times I’ve had clients that were arrested and went to court only to find out their case wasn’t filed.     Thinking they’re home free they move on with their lives.   Literally move on and forget to notify the court of a change of address.      A decision to file your case will generate a letter sent to you requiring you to appear in court on a certain date.     A letter returned to the court because you no longer live at the address will cause a warrant for your arrest.     Remember its your job to keep the court informed of your address for 12 months from the date of your arrest.

An active warrant is like a hand grenade with the pin pulled.    Any time law enforcement stops you and requests to see your driver’s license you can pretty much guarantee you’re going to jail for an active warrant.     Getting stopped for a tail light out or speeding could trigger an officer running your driver’s license for active warrants.    The most common place people get caught for active warrants is at the DMV when renewing a driver’s license.     Believe it or not I’ve had a number of clients arrested on cruise ships coming into the Port of  San Diego.    The manifest or passenger list is given to ICE ( Immigration Customs Enforcement) and they’re checking out every passenger for active warrants.      Getting handcuffed and removed from a cruise ship as it pulls into port is embarrassing to say the least.    Not to mention all of your luggage is taken to the police station and held in storage until arrangements can be made to pick up the luggage.       Any time you leave the United States and return you’re going to be checked for active warrants including the airport.      DUI Checkpoints are another busy place for law enforcement to run your license to see if you have an active warrant.

The question you need to ask yourself is “do you really want to be living in fear that one day when you least expect it you’re going to jail for an active warrant?”      No one should live with the fear of being arrested.     So what can you do to make this warrant go away?

Plan A – Call Me

If you have a warrant in San Diego County I can get it cleared for you and get you back on calendar to see the judge.     Clearing a warrant is just like posting bail when you’re in jail without going to jail.    The rules are the same as bailing out of  jail.   You’re out on bond.      The worry of having an active warrant is over.      A sense of relief will come over you because you know this headache is almost over once you face the judge and resolve the problem that caused the warrant.      You’ve made the right decision to take responsibility for the warrant.

Plan B – Call Your Attorney

Call the attorney that represented you on your case.   The case number is on the Sheriff’s website with your warrant and on the letter from the court notifying you of the warrant.    Your attorney will handle the warrant and get the case back on calendar at the court.

Plan C – Go to Court

This is “risky business” if you appear at the court to try to clear the warrant yourself.    You can request to be put on calendar for the morning or afternoon session.    Just be aware that once in court the judge has the discretion to have you taken into custody.        When warrants are very old ( issued more than 12 months ago) you can almost bet the judge is pretty upset with you and in some cases decide a little jail time is good for the soul.

What can you do to avoid warrants?    Make sure you go to court every time the court requires you to be present.   In the case of misdemeanors make sure your attorney is making the appearances on your behalf.    Yes, I’ve actually had this happen to my clients.    Attorney’s that forgot to appear for my clients and warrants were issued for their arrest.     A good rule is to stay in contact with your attorney to make sure the court appearances are being made each and every time.     The loser is you if they miss an appearance.        If you’re out on a bail bond the responsibility is yours to make sure court appearances are made.

What about the warrant issued for a defendant that left the court without their court documents?  This has happened to my clients.     You get to court on time.  Go before the judge.   You’re scheduled for future court dates.    Only problem is that you left the court without getting your court document.    Read this carefully.      NEVER LEAVE THE COURT AFTER AN APPEARANCE WITHOUT WAITING FOR YOUR COURT DOCUMENTS.      A long time ago people used the excuse they didn’t know their next court date and failed to appear.    The court got smart and that excuse won’t work anymore.     After each court appearance the defendant is required to wait until they’re given their court document showing their charges, case number and future court dates.     You must sign for this document which acknowledges receipt of your court document.      Therefore you have no excuse why you didn’t know your next court date.     Leaving without this document is an instant warrant for your arrest.    Basically you were there but you weren’t there.

After you’ve been sentenced make sure you complete everything on the plea agreement in the time given by the court.     An example would be 30 days to register for a DUI class.      Failure to register and pay for your class in the 30 day time limit will trigger a warrant for your arrest.      Getting through this obstacle course is simple if you’re organized and do exactly what the court orders.

If you agreed to make payments for any fines and you would like to make your payments online with a credit or debit card click on this link:

https://tops.sdcourt.ca.gov/TrafficMainMenu.htm

Sign in with your case number and date of birth.   The due date and balance will be shown on the Superior Court website.   Make sure you make your payments on time or you will have a warrant issued for your arrest and an opportunity to explain to the judge why you were late on a payment.      Print out the receipt with the confirmation number when you make payments online and keep in a file with the rest of your court documents.      Give yourself enough time when making payments online.   Don’t wait until the day the payment is due.   This could result in a warrant for your arrest.    The processing time is 2 court days.   

Check the Sheriff’s website if you ever think you may have a warrant for your arrest and take care of it immediately.   Don’t wait to be arrested.   Its only a matter of time before you’re arrested on an Active Warrant.

  http://vimeo.com/38798672

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department – Clearing Outstanding Warrants from San Diego County Sheriff on Vimeo.

Chapter 7 / Domestic Violence Nightmare

The sun is just coming up and you’re walking out of the jail at last.   You’re free!    Your mind is racing with thoughts of how did this happen to me?   Was this a nightmare?   How could this happen to me?    At this point the focus must be how to get out of this mess.    The first landmine ahead could be at your home.   Did you share this home with your spouse or partner?  Is he/she still there?   This is a problem.    Returning to the scene of the crime and getting into another argument with the alleged victim could lead to a fast trip back to the jail.      Were you served with a Restraining Order or Protective Order while you were in custody at the jail?    If the answer is yes to some sort of Court Order you cannot go to your home if the victim is inside.     This chapter could get very dicey if you step into the landmine waiting for you at home.   Nothing would make the victim happier then you going back to jail.    Depending on the situation that got you arrested in the first place the victim may not want to see you for a while unless you’re in a Smurf Suit and handcuff’s.    Avoiding the victim is very important right now.    In other words it’s not safe to communicate with the victim and stir things up again.    

Step 1:  GETTING YOUR STUFF

Let’s say you share an apartment with your partner.   Both of your names are on the lease agreement.  Which means you cannot legally evict your partner out of the home.     All of your belongings are inside the apartment and you need to get some things out without getting yourself re-arrested for domestic violence if the situation escalates again.     Do you have a mutual friend that’s willing to get some things for you?    Can that friend call your partner and request that these things be left outside the front door at a designated time?     If no friend or relative is available for this strategic mission you can always call the police.    The police will send out an officer to “Preserve the Peace” when an arrest has been made for domestic violence.    The last thing they want to do is arrest you again for domestic violence.     An officer will stand by while you gather up some things for about 30 minutes.       So what should you take?      Make a list before you schedule this visit to your home.    Being organized is helpful.  

  1. Clothes for work
  2. Clothes for leisure
  3. Clothes for court
  4. Clothes for sleeping
  5. Toiletries and medications
  6. Checkbook, Cash and Credit / Debit Cards ( in your name only)
  7. Other financial information / Investment Savings Accounts
  8. Laptop computer
  9. Car keys
  10.  Work related items you may need
  11.  Contact information of friends and family
  12.  Your dog or cat
  13.  Dog food, cat food, their medications
  14.  Misc supplies you can fit in a duffel bag
  15.  Personal items you want like family pictures, video’s, DVD’s

You only have about 30 minutes to gather up these important items.    A shopping list is very important.   Forgetting something could be very difficult for you to retrieve later.   Especially if the situation escalates.        Once you have your personal items leave the area.

Step 2:  SHORT-TERM  HOUSING

Try to find a place to live for a short-term basis.    Do you have a close friend that has room for you in a spare bedroom or on the couch?    Can you move home for a while with your parents?      Housing in San Diego County is very expensive and accommodations are usually very small in apartments and condo’s.     A wealthy friend with a large house would be great at this moment in time.    Realistically you might find yourself in a hotel or motel.   A fully furnished apartment would work well for the short-term unless the victim is willing to move out of the home you shared.

Step 3:  COPING WITH THIS TRAUMA

The first few days after being arrested for domestic violence will be a struggle.     I’m not a psychologist but I can tell you that emotions run high after this event.    Being arrested is very traumatic.     In most cases this is the first time many people are arrested.     In my experience there’s no stereo typical person arrested for domestic violence.    Law abiding people with good jobs get arrested for domestic violence.    These people aren’t career criminals in the majority of cases.     Once out of jail on bail for domestic violence you might want to seek some sort of counseling to help you cope with the trauma.         

Step 4:  GOING TO COURT FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Depending on the domestic violence charge your arraignment will be in about a week if it’s a felony 273.5 PC or in about a month for a misdemeanor battery charge of 243(e)(1) PC.     For felony charges you must appear with your attorney whether you hire your own attorney or use the Public Defender assigned to your courtroom.       The day of your arraignment you will find out if the case is being filed.    The decision might not be made until the day of your arraignment.      Detectives will question the victim and the decision to file the case will be left to the District Attorney‘s office.      Whether you hire your own attorney or use the Public Defender they will explain everything to you along the way until your case is resolved.   We actually have a D.V. Court in San Diego where all the cases in this courtroom are for domestic violence.      Resolution of your case may involve Anger Management classes and Couples Counseling if you decide to remain together.    Many times for married people a domestic violence case can lead to a divorce and child custody issues.    Again all of these things are handled with your attorney.     My job is to get you out of jail and make sure you get to court each time the court requires you to be present.    Once the case is over I hope you’re able to get back onto your path and move on with your life.    

Step 5:  LESSON LEARNED

The valuable lesson learned from domestic violence is that it can happen to anyone involved with another human being.      Should you find yourself in another relationship where you fear things could turn ugly…..get out.    Get out FAST.    From your experiences you’ve learned it doesn’t really matter who calls the police.   When someone calls the police for domestic violence you know that one of you will be going to jail.     Don’t let this happen to you again.      I tell my clients it isn’t a bad idea to do a background check on people before you invite them to move into your home.     We live in a time where this type of information is easily accessible online.    Use your resources.    Don’t you wish you could go to a website like Amazon.com and read the customer reviews before you decide to go out with someone?    I’m sure there’s a dating website out there right now that has this feature.    Finding a “love connection” can be very difficult.   Do your homework to protect yourself.   Treat dating like a job interview.   Would you hire this person if you knew everything about their past?   Same thing for inviting someone to live with you that has prior conviction(s) for domestic violence or any violent crime involving an assault.   This is a  RED FLAG.     It’s the old saying ” Buyer Beware!”

Chapter 6 / Domestic Violence

We can all thank O.J. Simpson for putting domestic violence on the map back in the mid 90′s.   San Diego is just a few hundred miles from the O.J. “epicenter” which may explain why domestic violence gets such a quick response from law enforcement.   The bail amounts are high and in many cases the charge(s) are considered a felony.   The decision to charge you with a domestic violence offense is determined by the arresting officer.    A simple pushing and shoving could result in a 243(e)(1)PC, battery on a spouse, former spouse, fiancée, etc., which is a misdemeanor.    The first offense is $10,000.       See the Bail Schedule by clicking this link:        http://tinyurl.com/bailschedule

                               If the officer decides to charge you with a felony 273.5(a) PC  Corporal Injury Spouse/etc,  the bail amount is $50,000 as of January 1, 2012 in San Diego County.   Getting arrested again for felony domestic violence is 273.5(e)(1)PC is  Corporal Injury Spouse/etc with a prior and the bail goes up to $100,000.   A new charge 273.5(a)PC17B4 was added for misdemeanor domestic violence which carries a $15,000. bail.  This charge is defined as:  an injury causing a “traumatic condition.”      The familiar $25,000. bail has been removed.    How will this new charge affect what happens when you get to court?   The new misdemeanor domestic violence charge will be easier to prosecute which ultimately will lead to more convictions and more sentencing for Anger Management classes.   The days of the D.A. rejects for felony domestic violence charges are over in San Diego. 

Let’s start at the beginning.  How did this happen to you?  Is it because you really didn’t know the person very well before you invited them into your home?  Did you meet them at a bar? Online? Through a friend? Using a dating service?  Or maybe you’ve been married for many years and something happened between you and your spouse and one of you just snapped.   Whenever there’s a full moon there seems to be an increase in domestic violence.  Most scientific studies say this is a bunch of hogwash.  I tend to believe the full moon theory by the number of calls I get for domestic violence around this time.

The first thing that happens is an argument.  The arguments are usually about one or more of the following reasons:

  • Money
  • Jealousy
  • One or both are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol during the argument
  • Housework being unevenly handled by one spouse
  • Too much time at work
  • Too much time watching sports
  • Not paying enough attention to your spouse
  • Catching a spouse in an affair  ( i.e. text messages / emails)
  • Mental Illness undiagnosed ( Bi-Polar)
  • Menopause which causes a hormonal imbalance
  • Spouse is an Alcoholic or addicted to drugs 

Once the argument escalates into yelling, screaming, pushing, shoving, throwing things at each other, breaking things or striking each other you can bet the next knock at your door will be the police.    The victim isn’t always the person that calls the police for domestic violence.    If  you live in a community with shared walls the loud noise will be heard by neighbors.   Since O.J. made domestic violence so BIG in this country people take it upon themselves to call the police so no one gets hurt or worse.   Your neighbor called the police out of fear that one of you might be seriously injured.   Once the police are involved they will separate the couple and try to determine who started the fight and who hit who first.   The person that strikes their spouse first will more than likely be arrested for domestic violence.   The arresting officer needs to remove one of the parties and the sorting out of what happened will be left to the detectives and the District Attorney.   In the old days the police officer played the referee and just tried to calm everyone down.   Not anymore.  If the police come for domestic violence someone is going to jail. 

What if you were the victim and the police arrested the wrong person?   This happens all the time.   The police have to go by what they hear from the couple when separated and what they see as far as cuts and bruises.  Photographs will be taken of the injuries and property damage.  The photographs will be used as evidence.   Hopefully you will be able to bail out of jail and your attorney can tell your side of the story once you get to court. 

On your way to the jail its advisable to be nice to the arresting officer.  This could be your only hope of getting bailed out of jail if you don’t have phone numbers of family, friends and co-workers memorized.   The majority of our population uses speed dial on cell phones.   The few that still memorize phone numbers are a minority.  The jail takes your cell phone and seals it in your property bag.  You won’t see your cell phone again until you’re released.   SO…….. Ask the officer if you can write down some phone numbers or a credit card number on your hand (with the expiration date and CVS code on the back of the card) so you can bail yourself out of jail.   Most people who call me in the middle of the night to bail out of jail for domestic violence don’t want their friends, family or co-workers to know what happened to them.  This is a very private matter.    Call me as soon as you get to the first jail cell.  At this point you should have a wristband with your name, booking number and photo.    Plan on spending a minimum of  4-12 hours at the jail.   Once cleared by the jail,  I will be there posting your bond and coming to see you.    San Diego County Jails process bonds and inmates on their timetable.    Many things can cause delays.   Shift changes.  Lockdown.  Inmates being moved around for court.  Be patient and you’ll be out of jail soon.    Once released from jail you’ll need to figure out a way to get your clothes and personal effects if you shared a home.   We’ll cover that topic in the next chapter.

Recommended for Veterans, Military, Reservists, National Guards & Their Families:   

 COURAGE ~TO CALL~   24/7 Helpline  (877) 698-7838      Provides free, confidential information, guidance and referrals.

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