How Courts Set Bail Amounts


If you want to know how a bail is set, you must first understand what bail is in the first place. Bail is an amount of money given to a court to guarantee a defendant’s appearance or presence on future court proceedings. Bail is not a strange term even among laymen. But many people don’t quite understand how the process works and they don’t quite understand how judges determine bail amount.

How does a Judge Set Bail Amounts?

People who do not have a clear understanding of legal proceedings are quite mystified about how is the amount of bail set by judges. To be clear, a bail amount is not a penalty imposed on suspects. It is not intended to raise money for the government either. It is intended to ensure a defendant’s presence in court. Many are also unaware that there are other factors involved in the determination of the amount. Please read on to fully understand the factors that determine how a bail is set:

1. The Nature of the Crime

The nature of the crime as well as the circumstances surrounding it can be used to determine a bail amount. High crimes get high bail amounts. Petty crimes get low bail amounts.

2. The Evidence

The amount of evidence and the likelihood of conviction usually get a high amount of bail. Its real purpose is to dissuade the defendant from considering it as an option for temporary freedom.

3. The Past and Present Conduct of the Defendant

Habitual offenders, those that were arrested or convicted of a crime in the past and those who fail to appear in court when required to do so are likely to get high bail amounts.

4. Criminal History of the Defendant

Armed and dangerous criminals are rarely considered for bail. Defendants who are deemed a threat to the community are asked to pay high bail amounts they could even be denied bail.

5. The Defendant’s History in the Community

A defendant who is close to family, is employed or has business interests in the community is unlikely to flee. In this case, the judge may set a low bail amount in this case.

6. The Defendant’s Current Criminal Status

When determining bail amount, the court takes into consideration if a defendant is on probation, parole or has just been released from another crime. These factors can heavily influence the judges’ decision in setting the amount of bail.

6. The Defendant’s Source of Income

The court considers the defendant’s source of income to ensure that it is not a product of criminal activity. Income that emanates from illegal means will certainly subject a defendant to higher bail amounts.

The law gives a judge the authority to set bail amounts. Sometimes, judges determine a bail amount based on precedence. It refers to the amounts set by previous judges on similar cases.

When the bail amount is already set, the defendant goes through a booking process. At this stage, the defendant is given the chance to post bail. Once the bail is posted, the defendant can walk out of jail freely and wait for their case to be heard by the court.

image credit: flickr.com


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