Bail amount is determined by a judge, usually at a bail hearing or an arraignment following an arrest. Most judges follow a standard protocol when setting the amount, such as $500 for nonviolent misdemeanors. But the amount is also up to the judge’s discretion based on the case, so it’s possible for the judge to lower, raise or waive bail. Here are details on how bail bond services can help if you are ever arrested.
Making Bail Arrangements
It’s actually not necessary for a defendant to be represented by an attorney when arranging to pay bail. You or someone you know such as a family member can post cash bail or you can call a bail bond seller to set up a bond. A bondsman can help you get released from jail by issuing a bond to the court for a non-refundable fee to the individual filing for the bond.
In return, you agree to appear in court at a scheduled date, otherwise the bond will be forfeited and a warrant will be issued for your arrest. Fees include state and federal charges. In many cases, courts accept 10 percent of the bond in cash. Keep in mind that laws governing bail bonds vary throughout the United States. In some states bail can be posted before the first court appearance either by the defendant, friends or bail bond services.
Bail Cost Factors
While petty crimes tend to correspond with low bail amounts, charges for serious crimes can lead to bail set for thousands of dollars. Other factors include the suspect’s criminal record, employment status and family connections within the community. Keep in mind that courts have developed long term relationships with bail bond services.
In some cases bail may be completely denied, such as when an individual has a warrant for his or her arrest in a different jurisdiction from the one in which they face charges. A judge will likely keep such a defendant in custody until the other jurisdiction decides what action to take. Another example of how a judge may deny bail is when he or she has reason to believe that the defendant will escape the jurisdiction that is pressing charges.
Common Crimes vs. Felonies
Schedules of bail amounts for common crimes are often posted by jails throughout the country. In those cases, someone who is arrested can post bail immediately after being booked. Bail amounts vary based on location, severity of the crime and the suspect’s residency. Usually bail amounts at jailhouses for felonies are up to ten times more than for misdemeanors and are not flexible.
How Police Affect Bail
Police only accept bail set by the rigid jailhouse schedule. You can request a lower amount, but it must be approved by a judge. Some jurisdictions employ duty judges, who can adjust a bail amount over the phone without a hearing.
Many times police will arrest suspects based on a combination of felony and misdemeanor charges. An example might be someone getting arrested for possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor, as well as intent to sell it, a felony. Even though the felony charge might eventually get dropped, bail will be set according to the felony charge. Since felony charges require high bail amounts, it could delay the suspect’s release from jail.
When Bail Is Unaffordable or Denied
If a judge sets a bail amount so high that the defendant has no way of paying it, there’s still a possibility for the defendant to appeal or petition the decision in writing, depending on the state. There are other ways you can be released from jail, such as being released on your own recognizance, which is a recognition by an individual that they owe debt to the court. Filing through bail bond services is a form of recognizance, as it is based on an agreement to appear in court on a certain date.
Usually a judge reserves denying bail for suspects of serious crimes as a matter of protecting the community from potential danger. Charges such as murder or escape from prison tend to carry automatic bail denial, except for special circumstances. Even so, bail for serious crimes will likely be set at a million dollars or more.
Another example of when a judge may deny bail is if you told the arresting law enforcement officer that you do not intend to appear in court. If a judge ultimately denies bail then the defendant must remain in jail through a trial and hope to be acquitted.