Very generally speaking, if a person is arrested on state charges and does not immediately bail out, he will have a court hearing (for arraignment) with 3 business days. The arraignment can occur sooner, if the prosecutor receives all the necessary information to file charges.
The federal system moves a bit more quickly than the state system, and if a person is arrested on federal charges he might be brought to court for arraignment that same day. Generally speaking, a person arrested on federal charges will be in court within 24 to 48 hours.
The US Marshals Service maintains a list of all inmates, arrestees, and detainees in local federal custody. Though it typically takes a day or two for the list to be updated with the most current information, the defense attorney can quickly contact the Marshals and find where a person is detained.
The San Diego County Sheriff maintains a user friendly-website and a list of all inmates, arrestees, and detainees in the local jails. The Sheriff updates the website twice a day – in the morning and in the afternoon, and you can search for inmates, arrestees, and detainees by first and last name using this site: https://apps.sdsheriff.net/wij/
The San Diego County Sheriff maintains a user friendly-website and a list of active arrest warrants. You can search for active warrants by first and last name using this site:
Up until a few years ago it was very easy to search PACER (the federal court’s records system) and see if someone had an active warrant. However, about 4 years ago the court and the federal prosecutors decided to keep active warrants sealed in an effort to promote the safety of law enforcement officers engaged in executing the arrest warrant. Your federal criminal defense attorney may be able to contact the federal prosecutor to see if there is an active warrant and to arrange for a self-surrender in court.
This is a very difficult question to answer, and depends on a number of facts. If your friend or loved one is not working and if the charges are very serious (and the bail very high), it might make more sense to let him stay in custody until his defense attorney has had an opportunity to seek a reduction in bail. As well, if the choice is either to post bail or hire a defense attorney, you should always choose to hire the defense attorney
However, if the charges are relatively minor (and the bail is low), and if it is important that your friend or loved one get out of custody immediately, then do not hesitate to call a bail bondsman.
The bail agent or bondsman will charge a fee (called a “premium”) for posting the bail bond, generally 10% of the total bail amount. That fee belongs to the bail bondsman and is not returned, even if the defendant is later acquitted (cleared of all charges) or convicted and sentenced to jail.
If your defense attorney refers you to a bail agent, you can often save 20% on the bondsman’s fee. For example, if bail is set at $10,000.00, the bondsman’s fee would be $1,000.00. If your attorney refers you to a trusted bondsman, your fee with the 20% savings would be only $800.00.
Once the bail bond is posted, a friend or loved one can be released from custody within a few hours.
For federal cases originating in Imperial County, the case will have the initial court hearings at the federal court in El Centro. After the initial hearings (including first arraignment, detention/bail hearing, preliminary examination, and second arraignment), the case will be transferred for all purposes to the federal court in San Diego.
It is important to remember that a critical piece of the case occurs between arrest and the first court hearing. For this reason, it is important to consult with and even retain an attorney BEFORE the arraignment. If there is sufficient time before the arraignment, the defense attorney can engage in pre-charging negotiation with the prosecution. This negotiation may lead the prosecutor’s office to agree to reduced charges, or to decline prosecution at all.
At a minimum, be sure to begin collecting mitigation information – character letters, employment records, school records, medical records, family photos, etc. – anything that can be used to provide a clearer picture of who the client is as a person, and information that can be used to negotiate the case.
Generally speaking, for felony cases in state and federal court, you should plan to appear in court (an in person) for every single court hearing. For most misdemeanor cases in state court, you attorney can appear in court on your behalf.
It is highly recommended that family and friends be present in court with the defendant, at least for the initial court hearings (arraignment and detention/bail hearings), and then for the major court hearings (trial and sentencing). Having a good group of people present to show support for a defendant can have a positive impact on the judge, and may help convince the judge to grant or reduce bail, or to impose a more favorable sentence.
On average, the typical federal criminal case takes 6 to 9 months to resolve.
On average, the typical state felony case will take 6 to 9 months to resolve. The typical state misdemeanor case will take 3 to 6 months to resolve.