Bail is usually set in the first court hearing after the arrest. The standard bail is usually around $500 for minor offences but the judge may choose to increase or reduce the bail amount, or waive it altogether and grant release based on defendant’s “Own Recognizance” or circumstances of the case.
Once the bail has been set, you can post it yourself or you can hire a bail bond company to do it on your behalf. Defendants usually seek out bond companies when they can’t afford the bail amount. The judge considers a number of factors when deciding the bail amount. These factors include your criminal track record, your job status, financial standing, and more.
Here are some other factors that are involved in determining the bail amount:
Nature of the Crime
The first and foremost factor that judges consider is the nature of the offence. If it’s something small and petty, the bail is set low but if the crime is dangerous and violent, the amount is set high. Judges also have specific guidelines about bail amounts concerning particular crimes.
Strength of the Evidence
The judges also take the evidence into account. According to the Fifth Amendment, the defendant is considered innocent until they’re proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. So before the actual trial can begin, the judge considers the immediate evidence and uses their best judgment to determine the likelihood of the defendant’s conviction. If a conviction seems likely, the bail will be set high.
The Defendant’s Conduct
Another factor to consider is the defendant’s past and present conduct. The judge sees if they’ve been arrested before and assesses their attendance record for the previous conviction. If they’re found to have skipped court sessions before, the judge will set a high bail but if the previous record poses no flight concerns, the bail will be set in accordance with that.
Criminal and Social History
Taking the past criminal record and history with the community into account helps determine if the defendant poses any kind of threat to the society. If the crime is of a violent and dangerous nature, the judge would set a high bail. They’ll also consider the defendant’s family ties and relationships because someone with many social ties is more likely to stay close to their loved ones while they await their trial.
The source of the defendant’s income also plays an important role in determining the bail amount. If the charge is against a criminal activity like selling drugs, it’s more likely that it’s the source of income too. In such a case, the judge sets bail accordingly. They also take the value of drugs into account. For example, if the defendant deals in high-valued drugs, then the bail will be set even higher.
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