How Are Bail Bond Amounts Established?

Have you ever wondered how judges come up with a specific bail amount and why there is such a range of amounts between them? The reason is because the judges who set bail, like everyone else in the world, have their own opinions about which amounts merit which specific crimes. 

In the words of Ed Magee, executive assistant with the St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney's Office: “…The whole purpose of bonds is get people to show up for court dates. Bonds are meant to be fair, not punitive. The courts set bond amounts, after police make arrests.”

Magee further states that judges also take into account factors related to the likelihood of whether or not a defendant will appear in court, the type of crime committed, the arrest history of the defendant and whether or not he or she is an American citizen. Repeat offenders and their particular offense patterns can greatly influence a judge’s perspective when it comes to setting bail.

 Special conditions and requirements can also be tagged onto bonds such as in the case of domestic violence charges and an order to forbid contact with the victim of a ”domestic incident” as a pre-requisite for bail. For bonds that total $5,000 or less, 10% is added automatically to the total. Anyone charged with bail set at this amount can get out of jail quickly if they can come up with  $500.

Bail amounts can be adjusted either higher or lower prior to the relevant hearing. A defendant's lawyer can request the bond be lowered or revoked depending on circumstances. Prosecuting attorneys as well can request alterations in bond amounts and conditions, based on evidence.

Bail is determined on a case-by-case basis, which is the reason some people may question specific amounts.

For better or for worse, this is our system until the day we write a new constitution and change the laws of our great land.

Posted by M Dee Dubroff, on January 11, 2013 at 9:00 AM