After an arrest, a suspect is taken into custody. After being taken into custody, bail is usually set soon thereafter, usually at the initial court appearance. While bail is most often set according to a pre-established schedule, judges have the ability to raise or lower standard bail. In the alternative, a judge may waive bail altogether or release a defendant on their “own recognizance.” When considering how to set bail and whether to deviate from the standard bail amount, the judge will consider a number of different factors. Here, we discuss some of those factors.
Factors in a Bail Hearing
While there are no findings of fact at a bail hearing, a judge is not ruling on the guilt or innocence of the suspect, a judge must evaluate several factors to determine the likelihood that the suspect will be law-abiding and return to court as necessary if released. The judge is permitted to consider the apparent weight of the evidence levied against the suspect in reaching this decision.
A judge, or magistrate, will consider the nature and circumstances surrounding the criminal charge. Usually, if narcotics or violence are involved, then this will weigh against reducing bail or waiving it altogether. The criminal history of the accused will also play a role in bail decisions as will whether or not the accused was on parole or probation at his or her time of current arrest. Should the accused have a criminal history, a judge will consider his or her record of making required court appearances.
Additionally, a judge may consider whether the defendant has any history relating to drug or alcohol abuse as well as his or her physical and mental condition. To evaluate whether the accused is a flight risk, financial resources available to the defendant may be evaluated as will his or her ties to the community. When a defendant has strong ties to the community, such as a home and a family, it is seen as less likely for him or her to try and flee.
On top of evaluating the reliability of the defendant and whether or not the defendant is likely to comply with attending the requisite court hearings, a judge will evaluate what type of risk to the community may be present should the defendant be released from custody. Should the defendant be seen as a serious threat, a judge may decide that he or she should be held without bail.
In the alternative, if a court decides that the defendant is not a threat to the community and is likely to return to court when required, he or she may be released upon certain conditions. Conditions of release without bail may include:
- Travel restrictions (including surrendering his or her passport)
- Requiring the defendant to maintain or seek employment
- Undergo drug and alcohol testing
- Undergoing medical or psychological treatment
- Enrollment in an educational program
- Observing a curfew
- Complying with periodic check-ins from authorities
- Executing a bond agreement
Criminal Defense Attorney
The issue of bail impacts a defendant’s freedom and it is set right at the beginning of criminal proceedings. If you have been arrested, do not wait to get in touch with the Law Offices of Bryce Cook. The sooner you do, the sooner we can begin to protect your rights and fight any criminal charges you may face. Contact the Law Offices of Bryce Cook today.