Many of us have a general idea of how bail is determined—largely based upon repeated viewings of Law & Order—but the process is actually a little more complicated than primetime television depicts.
Common Factors in Determining Bail
Most of us are aware that the more serious the crime, the higher the amount of bail required. Someone who is accused of murder, for example, will have his bail set much higher than a person who has been charged with assault. Accused persons may be denied bail because they have been deemed “flight risks.” This simply means that the person in question is thought to possess one of the following:
- The monetary ability to easily leave the area
- A compelling reason to flee, such as facing the death penalty if convicted
- An extensive prior record—especially one that includes bail jumping.
What many people don’t know, however, is that most courts have what’s called a “bail schedule.” To streamline the process, court officers come up with a set amount of bail for each of the more commonly-committed crimes. It’s a bit like an assembly line—as long as you don’t have the exacerbating factors we’ve already mentioned, you’ll probably just be given a predetermined amount of bail. Some crimes are so insignificant that the court doesn’t bother demanding bail for them.
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