4 Questions About Posting Bail When Accused Of A Crime

Bail is a great way to give a suspect temporary freedom. The money they pay is held by the court, and given back to the suspect when they return for their court date. Here are some answers to questions you may have about bail to clarify any confusion you have.

What Determines The Bail Amount?

Bail is not an arbitrary amount decided on by the judge, but is actually based on predetermined schedules. For example, there are limits set on how high bail can be for misdemeanors and felonies, set increases for multiple offenses, and even bail based on BAC (blood alcohol content) levels in DUI cases.  Each state has its own bail schedule that is available online.

Why Do Judges Deny Bail?

Even though there is a set bail amount for each crime, it is up to the judge to decide if a suspect is even allowed to post bail. Bail can be denied at the judge's discretion, but is typically done in one of these situations:

  • If the judge believes the suspect is not going to show up for their court date.
  • If the suspect has a previous history of not appearing in court
  • If the nature of the accused crime is serious and allowing a suspect to be released from jail could be a threat to the community.

What If I Cannot Afford Bail?

When bail is set too high you can go to a bondsman to get the money you need. They will charge a premium on top of the bail amount you are requesting. State regulations can cap the bail premium or leave it unrestricted. For example, California caps the bail premium at a maximum of 10%, while Minnesota does not have a maximum premium set.

Can Bail Amounts Be Reduced?

You may request to have the bail amount lowered, or you can also request a release based on own recognizance, both of which are up to the judge to decide.

An own recognizance release means that you will not owe bail, and simply promise to return on your court date. Some factors the judge may consider is if the crime you are accused of is not serious, you do not have a criminal record, or if you do not pose a threat to the community by being released.

Now that you know the basics behind bail, you will know what to expect going into a bail hearing. For more information, contact a defense attorney.