HOW DOES THE PROCESS OF BAIL WORK IN HAWAII?
The process of bail is set automatically by a schedule the police have based on the level of the offense. You can post cash bail, or you can post a bond by going through a bond company, or bondsmen. Doing so would mean you have to pay ten percent to the bondsmen, and they essentially guarantee you successful bail or your money back. That is the bondsmen’s fee. For example, they keep that ten percent, so for the $10,000 bail, you have to pay $1,000 for a bondsman to post bail for you. If you pay that bail yourself, then at the conclusion of your case, you will receive it all back as long as you will show up for your court date.
It is possible to get the bail lowered. If you post bail, or if you are unable to post bail at first, because it is too high, then within a few days of your first court appearance, the judge can make an order setting the bail amount lower. This is only because the defendant cannot afford the bail.
What Happens After Someone Is Released from Jail?
The first step after someone is released from jail would be the arraignment. They are required to report to court on a certain date, and at that point, the procedure is to enter a not guilty plea. This can always change later if you reach a plea bargain. You do not want to give up any of your rights, so you plead not guilty, or your attorney will speak on behalf of the defendant, and enter a plea of not guilty. At that point, the judge will then assign a trial, and pre-trial conference date. After that, we will retain police reports, investigative reports, and written statements from the prosecutor, and begin working on the case.
How Is a Criminal Charge Determined to Be Either a Misdemeanor or A Felony?
A criminal charge is determined by the type and level of crime or offense. Felonies are mainly burglaries, theft of a large amount of money, or property, or assaults that cause serious injuries. For example, a misdemeanor would be a theft of a small amount of money, shoplifting, or an assault that maybe occurred in a fight, or an assault that did not cause serious injuries, just minor. There are many misdemeanors, like trespassing, or property damage, that are not serious crimes to have major consequences. However, they are still against the law. Whereas arson, for example, would be a much more serious form of property damage, and that is a felony. For misdemeanors, the penalty is up to one year in jail, but usually those are probation able.
In other words, the person may not have to go to jail at all or spend just a few days in jail. The fines can run up to $2,000 for a misdemeanor. For felonies, the fines can run anywhere from $10,000 on up. There cannot only be a jail sentence in the local county jail, but on a felony, you can be sent to prison on the mainland to Arizona, where they transport many of the Hawaiian prisoners. They are there from anywhere for a period of up to five years or more for murder, or life. The parole board sets the actual time someone serves time, and they decide when to release someone. Now, with felonies, you can also get probation, so the judge still has options to offer probation, with a lesser jail term instead of a prison term.
How Do You Advise Clients that Want to Plead Guilty to A Crime?
I advise clients who want to plead guilty that there may be defenses or mitigating circumstances, we can use to beat the case even if they think that they have some responsibility, or that we can minimize the penalties to receive a reduced charge. There may be constitutional violations by the police; they may not have the witnesses, or evidence they need to prove the case. It always helps me to get the police reports from the government, review them, and talk to witnesses, or discuss with the client, and further advise them on what would likely happen if we do take the case to court. Nevertheless, even if they believe they are guilty, it is a good idea to plead not guilty at the initial arraignment, and then let me try to work out the best plea bargain.
Often, I can tell the prosecutor that in exchange for my client changing their plea to guilty or no contest, I like them to plead to a lesser charge, or stipulate that they will not have to serve any jail time. The prosecutor is happy to give some concession in exchange for not having to go to trial on a case, and use the resources and time in that way. It is always better to plead not guilty first, and then keep your options open while we are reviewing potential outcomes for defense, reduction of charges, or plea bargain to minimize the penalties.
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