Penalties- The “City Jail” Option

If you are concerned about ending up in jail, there is one way to do your time for a DUI county jail sentence that is safer and more pleasant than going into county.  It is called “City Jail” and it is a popular alternative for film stars and the rich who live in Los Angeles or Orange County.  Don’t be discouraged.  The system seems to be affordable for everyone–you just have to shop around.  Read further before you write this alternative off.

So what is “City Jail”?  Just what it says it is.  It is jail but it is run by the City and not the county. Many cities in LA and Orange County are opening up their jails to people who would otherwise end up in County…for a fee.  It is something of a profit center for strapped cities.  And its worth it if you can pay the price, which, depending on how much time you have to do, could be considerable.  At city jail, the food is better, the people are nicer–especially the inmates–you have more range of motion (many city police departments will even let you leave the grounds) and you can do your time safely and with no trouble.

Don’t get me wrong.  City jail is not like a stay at the Westin Hotel.  They won’t put a mint on your pillow.  But it is far better than doing time in LA County Jail.

Currently, city jail is not available in Northern California.  However, if you are prepared to do your time in LA or Orange County, you can get a court order placing you in City Jail in LA or Orange Counties.

Before you go for it, there are several points to consider:

1. You will need a court order to do your time in a city jail, if you live in Orange or LA county.  If you live out-of-county, you will need the court to order you to be permitted to do out-of-county jail as well as order you into the specific city jail you choose.  So, ask the judge for two things before you enter a plea of guilty or no contest:

  • An order permitting you to do your time in [Orange] [Los Angeles] county.
  • An order permitting you to do your time in the specific city jail you have chosen.

Finally, make sure BEFORE you enter a plea, that you have been accepted into the program.

2. You must submit an application in order to be accepted to do your time in city jail.  Be advised that there are daily fees for city jail along with booking charges and additional miscellaneous fees.  Verify the cost before you commit by asking the court for an order sentencing you to city jail.

3.  You may need to justify doing your time out of county.  Some judges don’t care if you do your time in their county or not.  Others care deeply.  Is there a reason you need to be in LA or Orange County?  Is there a relative who lives there who relies on you for care?  Are you planning to relocate to Southern California in the near future?

4. All city jails require a medical clearance.  Medical problems will probably prevent you from being accepted, although some jails can handle certain types of medical issues.  I have a client who was accepted into one city jail, even though he was an insulin dependent diabetic.  Don’t be a defeatist.  If you cannot get into one city jail, try another.

5.  Prices and terms vary.  Some city jails are pretty strict, but cheaper.  Others are more relaxed but expensive.  The prices run as low as free (Newport Beach at the time this was written) and as high as $175 a day (Hermosa Beach).  The average runs around $75-$100 a day for Pay N Stay.

6.  Should I do “work furlough” in city jail rather than for the County Sheriff?  It’s up to you, but I wouldn’t.  A film star might.  For my money, why pay the fee?  Work furlough is relatively benign even at county.  You will spend your day (if you aren’t sent home early) picking up trash on the side of the freeway or doing sundry chores.  In most counties you have to pay a fee to do work release, but the fee is modest and worth the price of not spending a whole day and night in jail.


Fax 714-536-5698

2. FULLERTON CITY JAIL  (714) 738-6722

3. HAWTHORNE CITY JAIL  310-349-2775.

4.  NEWPORT BEACH CITY JAIL  949.644.3672

Lt. Swain (562) 905-9758
Sgt J. Mchail (562) 905-9689

5.  ANAHEIM POLICE DEPT.  (714) 765-1523 office  (714) 765-1540 fax
Michael Richardson
Correctional Facility Manager

Office: (562) 799 4100 Ext. 1117
Fax: (562) 493 0634



1. Azusa (626)812-3200

2 Burbank (818)238-3000

3. Culver City (310)837-1221

4. Gardena (310)217-9600

5. Glendale (818)548-4840

6. Glendora (626)914-8250

7. Hawthorne Officer John Dixon at 310-349-2775

8. Hermosa Beach (310 )318-0360, contact Angela Jenentz $175/day

9. Huntington Park (323 )584-6254

10. La Verne (909 )596-1913

11. Montebello (323 )887-1212

12. Monterey Park (626)573-1311

13. Pasadena (626 )744-4501, (626) 744-4616

14. Redondo Beach (310) 379-2477

15. San Fernando (818 ) 898-1267

16. Torrance (310 ) 328-3456

17. Monrovia (626) 256-8000 – Contact – court officer Ortiz