How Do Judges Determine the Amount of Bail?

If you have been arrested for a criminal offense, chances are that a judge may require you to post money bail in order to get out of jail. While judges do have the option to permit you to be released without posting a money bail, often called release on “personal recognizance,” many judges will require payment of some money bail in order for you to be released. Here are the factors that the judge will likely consider in setting the amount of the bond:

  1.     The seriousness of the alleged offense.

The judge will consider the seriousness of the alleged crime. For example, bail on a murder case is going to be significantly different than on a misdemeanor shoplifting case.

  1.     Prior criminal record.

The judge will take into account your prior criminal history, no matter how old. This generally includes offenses committed as a juvenile.

  1.     History of appearing in court.

If you have a history of failing to appear in court on prior cases, your bond will likely be set significantly higher.

  1.     Flight to avoid prosecution.

If you left the state or hid from the police in order to avoid prosecution, and they had to come after you for this arrest, it’s likely that your bail is going to be set fairly high.

  1.     History of substance abuse or addiction.

You don’t have to answer any questions about drug or alcohol use or addiction when you’re in court, but if your criminal history indicates a problem with substance abuse or addiction, bond will likely be set higher.

  1.     Mental condition.

If you have documented mental health concerns or a reputation for dangerousness, your bond will be set at a higher amount.

  1.     Probability of conviction.

The judge will consider the strength of the evidence against you. The stronger the evidence, the higher the bond.

  1.     Employment status.

Being employed is a bonus. Employment will likely result in the judge setting a lower bond.

  1.     Financial history.

The judge will consider your financial history for the purpose of determining whether you have the ability to post money bail. If you are indigent, the judge shouldn’t be punishing you and keeping you in jail simply because you are poor.

  1.  Ties to the community.

The judge will consider your ties to the community, including factors such as whether there are community members who will vouch for you, family ties to the area, and length of residence. The more ties to the community that you have, the lower the judge is likely to set your bail.

If you are going to be arraigned on criminal charges, you should contact an attorney, like a criminal defense lawyer Grand Rapids, MI looks to, to discuss the bond factors in your case.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Blanchard Law for their insight into criminal defense.

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