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How Do Judges Set the Bail Amount and How You Can Reduce It?

If the police arrest you for an alleged crime, they will send you to jail to wait for a trial. You can appeal for bail at your first appearance in court, typically an arraignment or a bail hearing, to secure your release pending trial. Judges decide on the amount of the bail based on a bail schedule or standard practices but reserve the right to change the amount or waive it if they so decide.

Right to Post Bail

Judges are under no compulsion to grant bail. For example, if any court has placed a warrant on you, you may have to remain in jail to give adequate time for the prosecution in the other jurisdiction to pursue its charge. According to Justia, a judge can also deny bail if you represent a flight risk or there is a possibility of tampering with the evidence, intimidating witnesses, or committing other crimes. However, the judge may reduce the bail amount or release you on personal recognizance if you prove you have an excellent standing in the community, have strong ties to the place of your residence and do not have any criminal record.

Top Factors Judges Consider for Deciding on the Bail Amount:

Bail Algorithm

In recent years, courts have commenced using computer algorithms that factor in various aspects of the alleged offense and the defendant’s profile, like criminal history, age, etc. According to Castle Bail Bonds, the computer program uses advanced math to assess the risk of flight or the probability of the defendant committing another crime if released.

Bail Schedules

In many jurisdictions, the defendant need not wait and appear before the court for a bail hearing. They can post bail with the police according to a bail schedule that sets out the bail amounts for common offenses. However, these schedules vary a lot according to locality, crime, and place of residence. The bail amounts are higher for serious crimes. However, the schedules are fixed, and if you want to pay less, you must appear in court. Some jurisdictions have a provision for duty judges who can set bail over the telephone and not need the accused to appear before the court. The bail schedule and the duty judge are good options if you do not want to wait to appear in court to secure release.

Police Practices

The police habitually slap the most serious charges they can on the defendant they can justify based on the facts available even though the judge may reduce the charge in court. Accordingly, you have to post a higher bail amount for your release. Many people without the means have no other option but to languish in jail, awaiting trial even for minor crimes. According to Investopedia, judges set bail amounts for felonies much higher than for misdemeanors.

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Even though the decision to allow you bail rests with the judge, you can request the judge to reduce the amount if you feel it is too high. The judge may reconsider the amount keeping in mind the seriousness of the crime, public safety, prior criminal record, probability of no-appearance in court, employment history, ties to the community, residence, etc.

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