A disgraced Vietnamese comedian can have his bail lowered during an arraignment in the U.S. this week after he was arrested last month on child molestation charges, according to a California-based attorney.
The lawyer who will defend Minh Beo at Friday’s arraignment can ask to have his US$1 million bail cut down, even though there is little chance the request would be accepted, Tu Huy Hoang, an attorney specializing in personal injuries and immigration, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Thursday.
The Vietnamese comedian is being held at the Theo Lacy Facility in Orange County, and is scheduled to appear in court for arraignment before a temporary judge on April 15 (U.S. time).
He was arrested on March 25 on charges of sexually abusing a minor.
At the hearing, Minh Beo will enter a plea of guilty or innocence, Hoang told Tuoi Tre after visiting the suspect in his jail cell.
A translator and a lawyer, either hired by Minh Beo or arranged by the judge, will also attend the arraignment, according to the attorney, who lives in California.
His family is only allowed to watch the arraignment via a screen in a separate room, he added.
The arraignment will take only five to ten minutes, after which Minh Beo will be taken back to his jail on a bus.
Hoang said Friday’s arraignment is only the start of a lengthy legal process, which also includes several pre-trial sessions, during which prosecutors and Minh Beo’s lawyer will exchange evidence.
The first-instance trial may take place up to nine months after the arraignment, according to the attorney.
The attorney added that the lawyer of Minh Beo can ask the judge at the arraignment to cut his bail to $100,000 or $200,000.
But Hoang noted that the judge may not only reject the request but also increase the bail to keep Minh Beo from fleeing.
In the meantime, a senator in California has proposed an amendment to the state Constitution that would allow a judge to deny an accused felon bail if they are a potential flight risk.
The Senate Constitutional Amendment 13 was proposed in response to the case of Minh Beo, Senator Janet Nguyen said at a press conference on Wednesday.
“There is an immediate concern that he will flee the country,” Nguyen said.
Under federal law, a court may hold an accused felon in jail without bail if there is a “serious risk that the person will flee,” but there is no similar provision under California law.