When you’re arrested, the court will set bail to give you the opportunity to be released and go home but still be compelled to show up at your future court dates. Depending on the type and severity of the crime, bail can be considerably high. However, in some instances, it may be possible to get a reduction in bail so it’s more affordable.
These days, bail is most often determined by bail schedules which is essentially a list of crimes with recommended bail amounts for each. These recommended amounts at this time or get you released on your own recognizance which would mean you wouldn’t have to pay any bail.
If this initial request doesn’t work, you or your lawyer can file a motion for reduced bail. With the motion, your lawyer can submit supporting evidence or call witnesses to testify on your behalf to show that you’re not a flight risk and that you will show up for court appearances.
While you can file the motion yourself, it’s to your benefit to hire a lawyer if you can. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will know the best way to appeal to the judge for the best outcome for you.
If you can’t afford a lawyer, you can request a public defender at no cost when you are arraigned. You will have to fill out an application and show that you do not have the money to pay for a lawyer yourself.
What The Judge Looks For
These are a few of the factors that the judge will consider when determining whether or not your bail should be reduced:
- Seriousness of the crime. If you are a possible danger to the community, it’s unlikely that you’ll be released or have your bail reduced.
- No criminal record. If you have a little or no history of criminal behavior, the judge will look more favorably on you.
- You have strong ties to the community. If you’ve lived at your current residence for a long time, have a steady job, and have close family nearby, the judge may feel you’re less of a flight risk.
- You haven’t skipped out on bail before. If the judge sees citations for missed court appearances, she probably won’t give you the chance to do it again, certainly not without a high bail amount.
To help your lawyer in convincing the court that you’re not a flight risk, provide recent W-2s, property tax records, or utility bills. You may also ask people to testify on your behalf, such as your spouse, current employer, or leader of your church. You may not want to testify on your own behalf, as tempting as it may be. Remember, you may say something that incriminates you.
How Much Is Too Much?
Before you ask the judge to reduce your bail, you should determine how much you can actually afford. Just because a judge sets your bail at $10,000, it doesn’t mean that’s how much you’ll have to pay. By using the services of a bail bond agent, you’ll only be responsible for a non-refundable fee of 10%, in this case, $1,000. The judge will likely assume you’ll be using a bond if you can’t afford bail.
If you’ve been arrested and need a bail bond agent, call Mercy Bail Bonds at (727)856-7775 and talk with one of our dedicated staff who can get the ball rolling on your release from jail. We’re open 24/7 and we always answer.