In the United States, when a person is arrested for a crime, they have the right to a fair and speedy trial to determine whether they are guilty of that crime. However, until that happens, they may be held in jail to ensure that they appear in court.
The bail system is designed to help people avoid undue incarceration while also ensuring that they appear before the court when called upon for their case. A judge or magistrate will set a bail amount that the inmate can pay to be temporarily released, with the promise that they will appear at court, at which time the bail amount will be repaid. If they fail to appear, they forfeit the bail.
So, how are bail amounts determined? In today’s post, our bail bonds experts explain everything a judge may take into account when setting a bail amount. Read on to learn more, and if your loved one is currently being jailed in Oklahoma, call our bail bondsmen at Affordable Bail Bonds now! We have locations throughout Oklahoma, including Muskogee County, and our bail agents are available 24/7 with surety bonds at the ready. Don’t spend another moment behind bars — contact us today to get back to normal life!
How Is Bail Set?
Bail amounts are set by judges or magistrates at bail hearings. For more common offenses, they may use a standardized bail schedule that lists common crimes and the appropriate corresponding bail amounts. Sometimes, a suspect is released on “personal recognizance,” which means making a promise to appear in court without any payment or paperwork needed. This type of release is most often granted when the suspect is seen as a low flight risk, with a business or a steady job, a good reputation in the community, or other positive personal traits.
For more complex crimes, or for suspects that pose a higher flight risk, the judge will consider a number of factors in setting bail amounts:
1. The Severity of the Crime
Generally speaking, the worse the crime, the higher the bail. Judges are especially likely to set high bail amounts for violent crimes that show the suspect may be a threat to the people around them. Felonies will require higher bail amounts than misdemeanors.
2. The Evidence Against the Suspect
The judge may look at the existing evidence for the crime to determine the likelihood of a guilty conviction. If there is a convincing amount of evidence, and the suspect is likely to be found guilty, then they might pose more of a flight risk, and the judge will set the bail higher. (It’s important to note that this is not a punitive measure — regardless of whether the suspect is found guilty, the bail money will be returned to them if they appear at court.)
3. The Suspect’s Conduct
Judges are far more likely to set high bail amounts for repeat offenders, especially if the suspect has failed to appear in court for previous hearings. Past convictions and poor court attendance will result in higher bail amounts on average.
4. The Suspect’s Criminal History
For suspects with histories of violent crimes, judges will often set bail high in an effort to protect the community from a potentially risky individual while they await trial. If a suspect is released on bail and commits another violent crime while waiting for court, then their bail can be forfeited to the courts, even if they appear at trial.
5. The Suspect’s Reputation
Judges will often look at the suspect’s relationships within the community in order to determine whether they pose a flight risk or violent threat. Suspects with stronger ties to the community through family, stable employment, long-term residency, and good financial and mental health will generally be granted lower bail amounts. Suspects with less-close ties to the community are less likely to stick around for court dates, so their bail may be set higher.
6. The Suspect’s Present Criminal Status
If the suspect was arrested while on parole or probation, their criminal status will be a major factor in the judge’s bail decision. Suspects with clean criminal records will enjoy lower bail amounts, on average.
7. The Suspect’s Financial Status
Depending on the suspect’s financial status, a $1,000 bail may range from a minor inconvenience to more money than they have in their savings account. Judges will often take a suspect’s income and financial stability into account when determining bail in order to reach an appropriate amount.
Call Affordable Bail Bonds Anytime, 24/7
If your loved one is being held in a Muskogee County jail, please contact our bail bondsmen at Affordable Bail Bonds today. With locations throughout Oklahoma, affordable payment plans, and more than 30 years of experience helping families navigate the confusing court system, we are your solution to being released as quickly as possible. Our phones are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so call now!