Bail is determined by a judge at a bail hearing or an arraignment. This is the amount of money a defendant must provide, either by paying the full amount or by hiring a bail bondsman. Once bail has been determined and posted, the defendant is released from custody until the trial date. But how is the amount of the bail determined? Although there are guidelines, judges have discretion in setting the amount. As such, they will take several factors into consideration.
Public safety is one of the first factors that judges keep in mind when determining bail. If the person doesn’t pose a major threat to the public if released, the judge will set the bail much lower. In some cases, such as murder charges and other serious crimes, the judge may decide not to let the defendant out on bail at all.
Type of Crime
The judge will obviously take into consideration the seriousness of the crime when setting bail. Someone who is being charged with manslaughter, for instance, will have a much higher bail than someone who is in trouble for petty theft.
Prior Criminal Record
Someone who has been in trouble with the law a lot in the past will have a more difficult time getting a low bail than someone who is facing a first offense. Although it is certainly possible for someone with a long criminal record to get out on a lower bail than someone with no history of criminal offenses, such as if the first-time offender has committed a very serious crime, chances are good that someone with a bad criminal record will have to pay a lot more in bail in order to get out of jail.
If you have ever watched a television show about crime, you may have heard prosecutors and defense attorneys talking about “community ties.” This simply refers to a person’s connections in the city or town that he or she lives in. For instance, does the person have a lot of family living in the local area, or does he or she have children at home? Does the person have a full-time job, or is he or she a student?
Although it might not seem like these things will matter much, they do make a difference when it comes to bail. Since the whole point of bail is to ensure that the individual will show up for court, it is a good thing if a person can prove that he or she has ties to the community, making the defendant less of a flight risk. On the other hand, someone who owns homes in different countries might have a more difficult time getting out on bail because the judge might decide that he or she might try to leave the country prior to the court date.
Although laws and guidelines do vary based on different states, these three things are typically what are taken most into consideration when a judge is setting bail, although factors like jail overcrowding in a certain area might affect the decision as well. Since it is a constitutional right to be given a reasonable bail, however, judges typically take these things into consideration in order to come up with a fair and reasonable amount for defendants who are awaiting trial.
This article was written together with Robert Tritter, an aspiring lawyer who looks forward to sharing his knowledge with the world. They write this on behalf of Garza Bail Bonds, your number one choice when looking for bail bonds in Brazoria County. With almost 30 years of experience, you know they’ll give you the best service possible.