Cite & Release Procedure In California
Cite and release is a procedure in California that involves writing a citation for alleged criminal activity without taking the accused person into police custody. Defendants are instead freed on the stipulation that they submit a written commitment to appear in court at a future date.
Cite and release procedures are mostly used for minor charges like traffic violations or misdemeanors. Here’s how they work and who to call for legal help.
A citation is the written form, or ticket, that notifies a defendant that they have allegedly violated the law. Citations include details about the alleged activity, the name and information of the defendant and the responding officer, and information about the defendant’s court date.
If the defendant can resolve the matter prior to their court date, the citation will also list this information and what steps the defendant should take. The citation must be signed and if the defendant refuses, the police officer can arrest and book them instead.
Which Offenses Fall Under Cite and Release Laws In California?
Cite and release is generally only available for minor infractions, such as:
- Petty theft
- Disorderly conduct
- First-time DUI if no injury was caused
- Speeding and other traffic offenses
Not all misdemeanor offenses can be cited; in the following cases, suspects must be traditionally booked:
- Domestic violence resulting in injury
- Domestic battery
- Violation of a Protective Order
What to Expect In Court After a Citation
The judge presiding over the case will decide what happens with the defendant while the matter is waiting to be heard in court on the chosen date. The judge, or magistrate if applicable, may refuse to grant bail, offer bail in an amount they see fit or release the defendant on their own recognizance. The latter is typically done when the defendant has no criminal record and is not a flight risk.
Cited? Get Help From a California Criminal Defense Attorney Now
If you were cited and released without being booked, don’t make the mistake of assuming that the potential penalties are as minor as the infraction. If convicted, even low-level penalties are life-changing. It’s important that you secure experienced legal representation as soon as possible after receiving a police citation.