When criminal defendants are released after an arrest, it is common to hear that they were released after meeting X amount in bail. Such statements can make you wonder who and how the bail amount was determined. This is a common question asked by clients of Connecticut Bail Bonds Group, a leading bail bonds company in Connecticut. If you’ve ever wondered how bail amounts are determined, read on.
Who Determines a Person’s Bail Amount?
After a criminal suspect has been arrested, they are entitled to be arraigned before a judge within a certain time frame. The arraignment is described as the defendant’s first court appearance after an arrest. During this court proceeding, the prosecutor will read charges against the defendant. The defendant will also be allowed to plead guilty or not. The defendant’s legal counsel thereafter tenders a bail application. In most cases, the prosecuting counsel will argue against the application. After hearing both parties, the judge will determine whether the defendant will qualify for bail or not.
How a Person’s Bail Amount is Determined
To determine a defendant’s bail amount, judges consider several factors. These factors help to decide whether the defendant qualifies for bail and the amount to impose as a bail condition. Below are some of the important factors that affect bail amount.
In some states across the US, criminal defendants are allowed to post bail before being arraigned in court for the charges against them. There is a bail schedule that dictates a specific predetermined amount for each class of offense in such states. After an arrest, defendants that can pay their bail based on the jail’s bail schedule will be allowed to walk free. For better understanding, the amount allotted to each crime varies based on severity. Felony crimes may cost between five to ten times more than misdemeanor offenses. Also, the bail schedule varies from state to state.
The Severity of the Crime
Judges often consider the severity of the charges against the defendant when determining their bail amount. Criminal defendants who have been charged with violent crime offenses are more likely to get a higher amount set for their bail. Although judges have set guidelines to follow when determining bail conditions, they may decide to inflate the amount to mirror the severity of the charges.
Amount and Validity of Current Evidence
In a criminal case, evidence plays an important role. If there is a mountain of evidence that indicts the criminal defendant, the judge may set a high amount in bail. In some cases, judges also set a high amount to reduce the chances of skipping bail. With a high bail amount, the defendant may be unable to make bail or unable to make a run for it before sentencing.
The Defendant’s Conduct
Judges consider a wide range of factors when setting bail amounts. The sitting judge considers the defendant’s conduct and whether the defendant is a threat to themselves and/or the community. If there is a huge chance that the defendant may constitute a nuisance when released on bail, the judge may either deny the bail application or set a high amount. Also, the bail amount may be set high if the defendant is considered a threat to themselves or has a history of skipping court dates. Judges may also consider the arresting officer’s testimony against the defendant.
Prior Criminal Record or Current Criminal Status
Defendants with past criminal history often get a higher bail amount. Such defendants are considered to be unable to live within the confines of the law. The judge may decide to set a high amount in bail to discourage their release or to ensure strict enforcement of the court rules. Criminal defendants who can bail after a high amount has been paid are often likely to obey court rules and appear on their court dates.
In addition to the defendant’s criminal history, the current criminal status of the defendant can also affect their bail amount. Defendants who have been re-arrested after skipping bail will have their past bail amount forfeited and the new amount higher. Those who are on parole, probation, or have arrest warrants against them are also more likely to score a higher bail amount.
Defendants with strong ties to the community have a chance of getting lower bail amounts. Judges often consider employment, home or other properties, family, and other ties when determining bail amount. Defendants with no strong ties can easily skip bail and so may get a higher bail amount.