How the Court Determines the Bail Amount

Posted By David L. Carlson, Attorney At Law || 11-Nov-2015

If your loved one was recently arrested, or if you’re new to the criminal process, you may be wondering how judges set bail, and it’s understandable why. Ordinarily, judges will set bail at a suspect’s first court appearance following their arrest, which happens at the arraignment or the bail hearing.

Generally, judges adhere to a standard procedure, for example, setting a bail amount of $500 for a nonviolent and minor misdemeanor. However, bail is at the judge’s discretion.

A judge has every right to lower or raise the standard bail amount, or even waive bail altogether and release a defendant on their “own recognizance” based on the circumstances of the case.

Defendants have various options for posting bail, including:

  • They can personally post cash bail
  • They can call on a bail bondsman
  • A friend or family member can post cash bail
  • A friend or family member can purchase a bond from a bail bondsman

What factors influence bond amounts?

The amount of bail depends on a variety of factors, such as: 1) the seriousness of the crime, 2) the defendant’s criminal history, 3) whether the defendant is employed, 4) if the defendant has close ties to the community, 5) if the defendant poses a risk to public safety, and 6) if the defendant is perceived as a flight risk.

In some circumstances, for example, when the defendant is perceived to be highly dangerous, or when another jurisdiction has issued a warrant for the person’s arrest, a judge may decide to deny bail altogether. A judge may also deny bail when they believe the defendant might flee.

Some Areas Have Bail Schedules

Many jails in the United States have what are called posted bail schedules, which establish bail amounts for common crimes. In those cases, an arrested defendant would pay the amount set forth in the posted bail schedule and would be released immediately after booking.

Bail schedules are not the same across the boards. They can vary significantly based on the type of crime and the locality. As a general rule, the bail for felonies is between 5 and 10 times higher than it is for misdemeanors. Essentially, the more serious the crime, the higher the bail amount is going to be.

Facing criminal charges? Our Richmond criminal attorney can help. Contact Carlson & Collier 24/7 for the trusted legal support you need. Call now to schedule a free consultation.

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