Injured in Jail While Fighting a California Criminal Case

In my over 25 years of practicing law, my firm has represented defendants charged with serious felonies in California.  In many of those cases, bail is set at such a high number that Defendant’s will need to wait in jail until there case is resolved by either dismissal, trial or a plea bargain.   Whether you serve jail time pending the resolution of a criminal case in Lancaster, Palmdale, Ontario, Los Angeles, West Covina, Huntington Beach or any other city in California, you may unfortunately face circumstances where you are relying on your jailer often time a local sheriff’s department to make sure you are protected until the outcome of your case.  Fighting California criminal charges is hard enough but when you face safety issues in a county jail it makes it even harder to fight a serious felony case which can take time so that an experience criminal lawyer can get the best possible result.  If you are injured in jail while fighting a California criminal case, you should be aware of your rights and seek the proper representation to fight criminal charges and make sure you get justice from an unnecessary injury incurred while in custody.


  1. Jail injury: excessive force and failure-to-protect


There are very few things in life more distressful than to be arrested and taken into custody. It is not rare to know someone who has had the misfortune of being the subject of an arrest. The thought of sudden separation from friends, family and loved ones and placed in a jail cell is horrifying for most. As an attorney practicing for almost 30 years I have heard from individuals who not only have suffered the indignity and nightmare of an arrest but have been the subject of physical and mental abuse while in jail. Although the police may have the right to make an arrest and take someone to jail, they also have an obligation to make sure that individual remains safe and is not placed in a dangerous setting. Often an individual arrested and jailed for what is otherwise a minor offense, is placed in a jail cell or setting with others who are violent and dangerous.


Such was the situation is a recent court case in California. In Castro v. City of Los Angeles,  the Untied States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently expanded the rights of those injured in jail. Mr. Castro had been arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct. Deputies of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department placed him in a “sobering cell”. Unfortunately, they also placed in the same cell as Mr. Gonzalez,  an individual who was “acting bizarre”.  Mr. Gonzalez was later seen stomping on Mr. Castro’s head and beating him violently. Calls for help by Mr. Castro went ignored. Mr. Castro was hospitalized for a month and was in a coma. He has suffered terrible long term problems from the attack.


Lawyers for Mr. Castro sued the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department. Inmates who sue prison officials for injuries suffered while in custody may do so under the Eight Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause or, if not convicted yet, under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.

[1]  The person suing must prove that prison officials acted “deliberate indifference”. The standard is different for someone who has already been convicted is different than someone who has not been convicted and is awaiting trial.


The court in Castro recently held that it makes no difference if the inmate was injured at the hands of a jailer (excessive force claims) or at the hands of a fellow inmate (“failure-to-protect” claims).


  1. Getting a California Attorney to Get Out of Jail


Being arrested and placed in jail for an hour or a year is a terrifying experience in and of itself. To be helpless and vulnerable at the hands of other inmates while jail personal look on is unacceptable.   Although the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals made it easier to sue a jailer for failing to protect an inmate, the best way to avoid such a situation is to get out of jail as fast as possible.  When arrested and placed in custody, the Government has 48 hours to present a Defendant in court for an arraignment and setting of bail.  It is always advisable to consult and if possible retain an experienced criminal lawyer to give you the best chance at a bail reduction or a being released on OR (Own Recognizance) which always you to be out of jail without posting bail as long as you promise to appear at all the required court proceedings.


The Court will look at different factors in determining whether to release someone “OR” including the seriousness of the offense, the criminal background of the accused, and whether the defendant is a flight risk.  Often time the prosecution will be very aggressive in fighting against OR because they know they are at an advantage in a case if the Defendant is in jail as a the Defendant will be more likely to try and enter a guilty plea while being under the stress of confinement.   As such, it is very important to have the proper legal representation in the early stages of a criminal case including the first court appearance so that you may have the best chance of being released during the pendency of a criminal case which may potentially have significant consequences.


If someone has been taken to jail and/or injured while in custody,  Daniel C. Leib, an experienced criminal attorney in this area can help. Cases like this can be very time consuming and complicated and if you or a loved one has been jailed or injured while fighting a criminal case they should consult an attorney to understand their rights.  Leib Law will be happy to give you a free consultation at (844) 210-1701.