If you are arrested, you will generally have the option of paying bail and getting out of jail, returning home until the date of your trial. (There are exceptions when bail is not granted, though this is usually reserved for violent crimes or suspects perceived to be flight risks.) The amount of your bail can vary wildly, and it ultimately comes down to the judge who presides over your case.
A lot of the time, judges will adhere to standard bail amounts; for a petty misdemeanor that is not violent in nature, $500 is the agreed-upon norm. With that said, judges also have the discretion to raise or lower that bail amount as they see fit. In some cases, judges can waive bail completely, releasing the suspect on his or her “own recognizance.”
The question is, how do judges determine how much to set bail for? There are several factors that they will consider. Here are a few of the main ones.
Factors That Determine the Bail Amount
The first thing the judge will consider is the seriousness of the crime—and, whether or not the crime was violent in its nature. Beyond that, some additional considerations for the judge include:
- The defendant’s criminal record (first-time offenders will usually be shown greater leniency)
- Whether or not the defendant is employed
- Whether or not the defendant has family/relatives nearby or other ties to the community
These last two points both inform the judge’s thinking as to whether the defendant is a flight risk—that is, whether he or she is likely to flee rather than show up for a court hearing.
Why Might a Judge Deny Bail?
Judges have the right to deny bail completely, and there are various reasons why this might happen. We have already mentioned a few of the more common ones: A serious or violent crime from a repeat offender, the defendant deemed a flight risk, or public safety is at risk.
Additionally, note that a judge might deny bail in order to hold the defendant if another jurisdiction has issued a warrant. Perhaps this is just another way of saying that those with more complicated or extensive legal records are the ones most likely to be denied bail outright.
What About Bail Schedules?
One more thing to be aware of is that, in some states, defendants can actually post bail before they even see a judge; in such instances, a bail schedule will show the prescribed bail amount for common crimes. This can expedite the process and remove the uncertainty of the judge’s involvement, though again, it’s an option only available in some parts of the country.
If you are in California and need additional help navigating the bail process, or in actually obtaining the funds needed to make bail, we encourage you to call us. Remedy Bail Bonds is here to help members of the community who find themselves in tough spots. Reach out to us whenever you need our assistance!