Bail is a certain amount of money that is posted by a criminal defendant in order to be set free prior to their criminal trial. In order to determine the amount required for bail, a judge or magistrate will issue the amount at the defendant’s bail hearing or arraignment. Bail not only allows defendants to avoid the unpleasantness of sitting in jail but also guarantees that the defendant will actually show up to their trial due to the risk of forfeiting their money. But how does the judicial system determine what amount to set as bail?
Generally, each state or individual jurisdiction has a predetermined amount required for bail for each individual crime that a person can be charged for. These schedules have various monetary amounts ranging from smaller amounts for misdemeanors to much larger amounts for felonies. This is due to the fact that felonies are typically more serious and dangerous then simple misdemeanors and as such, require more money to guarantee that a defendant won’t try to flee. Typically, a judge will follow the predetermined amount set out in their bail schedule in deciding the bail amount for a defendant. However, although the bail schedule suggests the typical amount of money required for a certain crime, the judge or magistrate has the discretion to follow the schedule, increase the amount, or disregard the amount based on their own judgment.
Although judges or magistrates look to a bail schedule to see what a normal baseline amount for bail is, they also take into account many different factors when setting a defendant’s bail. Some of the more common factors are:
- Seriousness of the crime;
- Whether the crime was extremely violent;
- Whether the defendant is a flight risk;
- The defendant’s previous criminal record or lack of record; or
- The defendant’s ties and relationship to the community;
Release On “Own Recognizance”
A defendant can avoid bail entirely if the judge or magistrate decides that the defendant should be released on their own recognizance. This means that a judge or magistrate has looked at the circumstances of the crime in question, considered any influencing factors, and determined that the defendant will not be in danger of failing to show up to their trial date. Generally, this is seen where the defendant has strong ties to the community, no previous criminal record, or the crime is not very serious or dangerous.
If you or someone you know have been charged with a crime, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney that can help zealously defend your case. Contact Us at Minick Law, P.C. for a free consultation
James Minick is founder and C.E.O. of Minick Law, P.C. James is committed to providing top notch legal services through his team of highly specialized legal professionals. James will defend your rights.