How is My Bail Amount Determined?
When someone gets arrested, they must post bail to get released from police custody. You might wonder how these bails are set.
Judges set bail after a suspect has been arrested, and their first court appearance is usually the bail hearing. Judges have a bail schedule that they typically follow but can raise or lower the amount as they see fit, based on the circumstances of the case. Depending on the situation, judges can also waive the bail entirely and allow the defendant to be released on their own recognizance – meaning the suspect is free to go home but must submit a written promise to return on the next scheduled court date.
There are a lot of elements at play when it comes to setting bail. To better understand how bail amounts get determined, let’s break down the details.
What Factors Can Affect Bail Amounts?
Judges will consider several factors when deciding whether to keep a bail amount standard, according to the bail schedule, or whether to raise, lower, deny, or waive bail. Some of those factors include:
- The significance of the crime you’re accused of committing
- The defendant’s past criminal record
- Whether the defendant is gainfully employed
- The closeness of the defendant with the community and their relatives
As technology grows increasingly sophisticated, some jurisdictions are now implementing an algorithm for setting bails. The judge will input specific information into the bail algorithm – including the factors mentioned above – and the algorithm will compute a recommendation or a score. This score becomes an assessment of the level of risk that the defendant will either commit another crime or fail to return to court.
It’s also possible that a judge might deny bail altogether if they strongly believe that the defendant might flee and fail to reappear in court. A judge will also deny bail if the defendant is wanted in another state or jurisdiction. Rather than releasing the defendant on bond, they’ll stay in custody so the other state or jurisdiction can pursue a warrant for their extradition.
How Are Bail Schedules Set in Court?
A bail schedule is a specific, set dollar amount of bail that corresponds with common crimes. These amounts vary from one jurisdiction to another and are non-negotiable. So, a defendant can immediately be released from police custody by paying this set bail amount without waiting to appear before a judge at their bail hearing. If the defendant wants to negotiate these set bail amounts for a lower figure, that needs to be determined by a judge. The values set in the bail schedule correlate with the seriousness of the crime. For crimes that are considered felonies, the bail amount can be five to ten times greater than those set for misdemeanor crimes.
Some jurisdictions also incorporate a duty judge in addition to or instead of a bail schedule. Rather than a defendant waiting for their bail hearing to negotiate their bail amount, they can speak with the jurisdiction’s duty judge over the phone. A duty judge considers the same factors that are brought up in a bail hearing, but the process is much faster.
How Do Specific Criminal Charges Affect Bail Amounts?
If someone is arrested and charged with a crime that’s considered a felony, their bail amount will be astronomical compared to the amount set for a misdemeanor. When police make an arrest, they may charge the suspect with the most severe criminal offense possible, based on the facts available to them. If a suspect is arrested for a felony that’s later decreased to a misdemeanor, the bail remains at that felony level of the bail schedule.
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The Umansky Law Firm has a reputation as aggressive attorneys in Orlando and the Central Florida area. If you or someone close to you gets arrested for a crime, remember that you’re not guilty until that’s been proven in court. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side is critical for getting those charges reduced or dropped entirely. Our lawyers have been recognized by Florida Trend magazine and the Orlando community as Legal Elite attorneys, and our case history confirms our abilities in court. Contact us anytime online or call today for your free consultation.