Most people only hear about bail on television shows and they don't really understand it. However, if you're arrested and arraigned for a crime, it's important that you understand how bail amounts are set and what your options are. Bail is a constitutional right for most people who are awaiting trial, and it is meant to benefit the legal system in general.
Here's what you need to know about how judges set bail and what that might mean for your case.
Generally, for most crimes, setting bail is simple. Bail is there to allow a person out of prison, while also ensuring that they will still show up for all hearing and trials as required by the judicial system. If a person "skips bail", it means they lose the bail amount. Bail is returned to the payee after all the court appearances have been made.
Most crimes have predetermined suggested amounts based on the severity of the crime. For example, a simple misdemeanor might only mean a charge of a few hundred dollars. However, bail amounts are not "by the book" and judges can increase or decrease (or even waive) bail at their discretion.
Factors that Might Increase Bail
So what might increase a bail charge? There are several factors that could cause a judge to raise bail, including:
- severity within the charge. If a person is arrested and charged with child endangerment, but the case is particularly violent and includes many disturbing details, the judge may increase bail because the defendant poses a greater risk within the community.
- past criminal history. If a person is a repeat offender, especially with the same crime, bail may be set higher.
- risk of appearance. Some people are more likely to run. Higher bail amounts make running away much more expensive.
Judges usually allow for people to use bail bonds to cover bail, since most people cannot afford the high amounts of bail that might be set for serious crimes. However, in very severe crimes, bail might be set for cash only.
Factors that Might Cause Bail to Be Denied
It is rare for bail to be denied completely, but this can sometimes occur. If a person has run out on a previous criminal charge, even with high bail, bail might be denied entirely. If a person would be in danger of harm if they were still out on the streets (like a gang member), bail might be denied. Some prosectuors might argue that other people might be in danger if a person is not held in prison until trial.
Contact a bail bonds service for help.