It’s a fact that many people who are arrested for driving under the influence are eligible for immediate release from custody, either by posting bail, or on their own recognizance by submitting a written promise to appear.

But does the latter really guarantee that an offender will show up to court to face the consequences?

Not according to owner of  Patriot Bail Bonds in Bakersfield, Amanda Esposito, who feels that if a crime is committed big or small, people must be held accountable.

“There has to be accountability or financial compensation to the public when an alleged crime is committed, and bail bonds companies insure defendants will attend court and appear before a judge,” she said. “If they don’t, we compensate the court, which is win for the court and for the tax payers.”

In Kern County, the bail amount for a first-time DUI arrest is currently set at $5,000. But according to Lieutenant Bobby Voth of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office Virtual Jail Section, that amount could increase to as much as $10,000, once all the applicable Penal Codes are added in.

“This is derived from the bail schedule set forth by our courts,” Voth said. “However, most offenders are held for around 12 hours, then cited and released with a promise to appear.”

Kern County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Michael J. Yraceburn concurred with Voth, and said that even though there is a set bail amount for first-time DUI in place, it is the province of the sheriff to determine if they will cite and release a person after they are booked.

The reasons for releasing a majority these offenders on their own merit are simple, and can be attributed to the Federal Government’s prison population management mandate, better known as Proposition 47, which was passed by voters in the state of California on November 4, 2014.

“The decision to cite and release is largely due to jail management and the severity of the offense also plays a large role in that,” Voth said.

“DUI’s, although very serious, are not crimes of violence, and we simply do not have the space to keep misdemeanors of that level, unfortunately.”

But do those that are released without bail more prone to fail to appear when it comes time to go to court?

Voth said no, but Yraceburn is not so sure.

And while the DA’s data system is not defined enough to determine failures to appear (FTA) after a DUI arrest, it does show that for the first half of 2015, that FTA’s were running about 62 percent, which Yraceburn said was up 16 percent from 2014.

“This increase was, in our opinion is a result of Prop 47, and the changes in bail for those new lesser misdemeanors,” he said.

Esposito said she has also seen a “revolving door” effect at the jail since the sheriff’s decision to release a majority of those misdemeanor defendants without bail.

“Since the decriminalization of drug possession and misdemeanors like firs time DUI’s by law enforcement, we have seen FTA rates go through the roof,” she said. “Almost a 20 percent increase in failure to appears from one year to the next.”

That type of rise in FTA’s is why some jurisdictions, such as San Diego County, are enforcing  first-time  misdemeanor DUI case bail requirements, by requiring any person arrested for a first-time DUI to post a  $2,500 bail in order to be released.

Yraceburn said he agrees with that approach.

“The only sure way for an individual to appear is to have the defendant in-custody, but that is not practical,” he said. “So, having a financial incentive would be the next best thing.”

Having a stake in appearing — a loss of premium, a threat of jail or strikes are all possibilities for offenders who do not show up to court when they are required. Yet, there are those that still make the choice not to appear before a judge.

“Simply giving them a piece of paper and “hoping” they will show up is not realistic,” Yraceburn said. “A meth addict, whose only thought is to worry about where they are going to buy their next hit, does not care about the piece of paper that tells them they need to be in court in 30 days.”

So, while it is agreed upon by law enforcement and bail bonds companies that posting bail would likely ensure that  more defendants would appear in court, the bail bonds system has still recently come under fire by special interest groups, who think that it’s unconstitutional that some people have to stay in jail because they can’t afford bail — something Esposito said is just not true.

“With affordable payment plans and zero interest on balances, a $5,000 bond can be done with as little as $100 deposit and a few payments of $50,” she said.

A small and reasonable cost it would seem to ensure accountability, and recidivism.
“Lots of these folks will re-offend, especially DUI offenders,” Esposito said. “But you can bet we will make sure they are in court and the likelihood of them re-offending is cut down dramatically because they have been held accountable.”

By Matt Martz

The United States Bail Bonds System Is Under Attack
 
By Matthew Martz
 
A federal class-action lawsuit spearheaded by a Washington, D.C. based non-profit, is trying to attack our criminal justice system and with it, the very constitution of the United States.
The lawsuit, filed on Oct. 28, by a small group of attorneys calling themselves “Equal Justice Under the Law,” is aimed at toppling the “money bail” system, by convincing the US District Court to rule that surety bail is unconstitutional.
And if the group is successful, criminal defendants statewide may no longer have any options to be released from jail pending their trial.
The suit, initially filed on behalf of 19-year-old Riana Buffin and 29-year-old Crystal Patterson, who were detained in the San Francisco County Jail back in October because they could not afford bail, demands that the city and the state, amend the current bail system, which the EJUL claims unconstitutional, because it penalizes the poor with un-payable amounts for small offenses, while allowing the wealthy to purchase their freedom.
Currently, California State law requires cities and counties to use a generic “pre-determined” bail schedule, which the EJUL asserts; forces a person into coercive choices, which includes going into mounds of debt to post bail, or pleading guilty to a crime they may have not committed, or maybe just sitting it out in jail until their trial.
And while organizations like EJUL want people to believe that the lawsuit will stop profit bond making companies from rejecting defendants like Patterson and Buffin based on their financial means, the president of the California Bail Agents Association called the lawsuit “misleading,” and announced that her organization was prepared to “defend everyone’s constitutional right to bail.”
This includes, if necessary, taking legal action “to combat the attacks against bail agents and the public we serve,” she said.
Currently, the bail market effectively does what is fundamentally the public’s responsibility — to ensure an accused person’s due process rights, while protecting the public’s safety. However, by removing the private business of providing bail bonds, the price of freedom is in peril, and will ultimately be controlled by the government.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco, prosecutors have backed down, discharging the cases against both Buffin and Patterson, which in turn seriously raises questions about public safety.
In the end, if EJUL is effective in getting the court to deem surety bail unconstitutional, nobody is going to be held accountable for anything anymore. And when individuals facing criminal charges don’t show up to court — who’s going to go look for them?  Frankly, there simply is not enough law enforcement to patrol our communities and continue to re-arrest defendants when they fail to appear.
So while EJUL continues to debate the constitutionality of “money based” bail systems provided by honest bail companies, the reality is, that surety bail actually helps low income defendants in custody. It allows bond agents to take a down payment, secure the bond with collateral and allow for a set payment schedule.
Without surety bail, a defendant would have to come up with the full amount of bail, payable to the jail in order to be released.
The good news though, at least for now, whether it’s an accident or false arrest, bondsmen are still faithfully on watch, making sure that you or a loved never have to wait for trial from the inside of a jail cell.

On March 8, an HBO documentary revealed new evidence seeming to tie Robert A. Durst to the 2000 killing of his confidante Susan Berman. Not long after, Mr. Durst stopped using his cellphone.

Mr. Durst, who has been charged in Los Angeles with the murder of Ms. Berman and with lesser charges here, to be held in jail in Louisiana without bail

Prosecutors argued that Mr. Durst was a flight risk, presenting evidence that he was expecting to get over $100,000 in cash and saying that a map of Cuba had been found in his hotel room.

The hearing was to determine whether Mr. Durst, 71, who appeared in court with a shaved head exposing a surgical scar, is a flight risk and a threat to public safety. Since his arrest on March 14, Mr. Durst has been in Louisiana’s custody and is being held at a correctional facility over an hour away from New Orleans, where he was moved after the Orleans Parish sheriff’s office raised concerns about his mental health. What might have appeared as a relatively straightforward proceeding — a lawyer for Mr. Durst said he would not contest any bail ruling — turned into a four-hour demonstration that the Durst case, as sensational as it has already been, is still generous with surprises.

POLK COUNTY, TX (KTRE) –

An ongoing investigation by the Polk County District Attorney’s Office resulted in the arrest of a 60-year-old Onalaska woman on allegations that she had been using and possibly distributing methamphetamine from her home.

When Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives executed a search warrant on Juana Barnett’s home in the Yaupon Cove subdivision in Onalaska, they found meth and prescription medication that had not been prescribed to Juana Barnett.

Juana Barnett, 60, and her husband Bradley Barnett, 39, were both arrested and charged with a felony possession of a controlled substance. Juana Barnett was also charged with possession of a controlled substance Penalty Group 3 for the prescription medication. She was also issued a citation by Polk County’s Environmental Officer Darryl Oats for environmental violations.

A press release stated that the Polk County DA’s office acted on tips that Juana Barnett was “involved in the illegal use and possibly distribution of narcotics from her residence located in Yaupon Cove.”

The DA’s office also received tips that Juana Barnett, who is the manager of AA EZ Bail Bonds, had been issuing bonds in exchange for property, which she was storing at her house, the press release stated.

During the search of the Barnetts’ residence, the detectives also found property belonging to individuals who are out on bond, the press release stated.

District Attorney Lee Hon said the investigation is ongoing and more arrests could be pending.

Anyone who may have provided property to Juana Barnett or might have information that could aid the investigation is urged to call DA Investigator Christopher Lima at (936) 327-6868.

Copyright 2014 KTRE. All rights reserved.

Read the FULL STORY HERE

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