How Is Bail Set?
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When a person is arrested for a crime, their first priority is often to get out of jail as quickly as possible. The most common way to accomplish this is to post bail. Bail is, in essence, a monetary promise that a criminal defendant will return to court and face their charges at a later date in exchange for their release from custody, paid to the courts either in the form of case, collateral, or through the use of a bail bondsman. If a defendant should fail to appear in court, this money or collateral is forfeited. But how are bail values set?
Judges are responsible for setting bail and will usually determine an appropriate amount at a defendant’s first appearance in court after being arrested, which is either an arraignment or bail hearing. Judges usually adhere to standard bail guidelines for certain offenses, though they may raise or lower the bail amount as they see fit based on the circumstances of each case. Generally speaking, bail for felonies tend to be 5 to 10 times the amount of bail for misdemeanors.
Factors which can influence bail amounts include:
- The severity of the offense
- The defendant’s criminal record
- The defendant’s flight risk
- The defendant’s ties to the community
In some cases, judges may waive bail altogether and allow a defendant to be released on their “own recognizance,” otherwise known as an O.R. release. Likewise, if another jurisdiction has a warrant on a defendant, a judge may legally deny bail and keep them in custody until the other jurisdiction has a chance to pursue its charge. Since many people wish to be released immediately rather than wait the necessary time to see a judge, a majority of jails have standard bail schedules which have predetermined bail amounts for common crimes.
I Cannot Afford Bail – Can I Request a Reduction?
Under the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution, criminal defendants may not be subjected to excessive bail. Likewise, under the Bail Reform Act, defendants may request a hearing for a lower bail amount when the original amount is too high for them to pay. While bond reductions are difficult to obtain and are not guaranteed, a defendant can greatly increase their chances with the assistance of a powerful attorney.For more information regarding bail amounts or to find out if you are eligible to pursue a bond reduction, get in touch with the Law Office of Samuel R. Terry today. You can discuss your legal options and speak with the firm’s Fort Worth criminal defense attorney during a complimentary case review.