How do Judges set Bail?

Los Angeles Bail Information

What is Bail?

Bail is typically defined as the amount of money, received by the court to secure the defendant’s appearance at all future court dates. You may often hear about bail in criminal cases, and that the judge set the bail at a certain amount; but it can be hard for people without a background in the legal profession to understand just how the process really works, and how a judge determines the right bail amount for each case.

How Bail Amounts are Set:

Most people don’t understand the legal process and have no idea how the judge sets bail. I mean how does he know the amount he/she sets will set to ensure the defendant returns to court. What factors are involved in determining the bail amount? Thankfully, that’s why you’re here, we are going to try to answer some of these questions for you.

When a judge considers the amount of bail to set for the defendant, he/she will take into account a number of factors. The judge has the ultimate power to raise or lower bail amounts, depending on any number of factors, some of which can include the following:

The type of the crime committed and the circumstances surrounding the case:

Depending on the type of crime that has been committed will determine how much the judge will or could set the bail at. For instance, if the crime was of a violent nature, the bail amount may be increased.

Most judges have guidelines they must follow when determining bail amounts for specific charges, but for the most part, the worse the crime, the higher the bail amount will be.

The evidence of flight risk and how likely, or unlikely it is that the defendant will appear in court.

If there is a high amount of evidence such as numerous failures to appear in the past, the judge may set the bail amount higher in an attempt to dissuade the defendant from trying to make a run for it.

Understand that judges use their best judgement to attempt to create a situation where the defendant will appear in court at every future hearing date.

The prior conduct of the defendant.

This can and normally does include any prior convictions, and whether the defendant has ever failed to appear when previously ordered to do so. Odds are, if a defendant has a history of failing to appear in court, he/she will most likely fail to appear again, if given the opportunity. And the judge may not want to provide that chance.

The defendant’s criminal history

Previous criminal history often includes the chance that the defendant might be a threat to the community. If he/she is released what is the likelihood they may repeat the crime or commit a more serious or violent crime after they are released. If the crime was unusually violent, the judge will almost always set bail higher, or set the amount at no bail to protect the community.

The History of the Accused

Obviously, the following are major factors in determining bail amounts; they may include family ties, mental state, personal and employment history. A person with many ties to the community will most likely stay close to home while awaiting their court date.

Defendant’s Current Criminal Status.

If the defendant was just released from jail or prison and is currently on parole, probation, or previously release from another case, these factors will have a major impact on the amount at which bail is set.

Who Really Controls Bail Amounts?

Typically, the laws give a judge a great amount of freedom in setting bail. Most judges will consider a number of factors that seem relevant to the case, and some may be above and beyond the factors we have discussed here. There really is no set rule or guideline, though most judges will follow some sort of precedent to set bail.

What Happens After Bail is Set?

Once the bail amount has been set, the defendant goes through the booking process. During the booking process, the defendant is given the opportunity to contact a local bail bonds company to post bail or call a friend or family member to have bail posted on their behalf.

Once a bail bond is posted, the defendant will be released. The release time will vary depending on how busy the jail is at any given time of the day or night.

Have Questions?

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