It’s Thursday night and your favorite investigative crime scene television show comes on and the criminal is arrested and brought to court before the judge. At this time, both attorneys’ are fighting with the judge to determine what the amount of bail should be so that the accused can be released out of the custody of the police. Bail is set, usually at an extremely high amount, and then you hear the bang of the judge’s gavel and end scene.
Amount of Bail
Do you ever wonder how a judge determines the amount of bail? From watching those shows, you’ve probably heard terms like “risk for society” or “flight risk”. These aren’t just fictional reasons to make the show sound better. Bail is based on specific guidelines such as the severity of the crime that was committed, the likelihood that the person who committed the crime will do so again and the likelihood that the person will flee from the state or the country before their next trial date (which explains why they always ask that the defendant surrender their passport).
Not only does a judge examine multiple factors to determine a set bail amount, they also must follow guidelines based on the eighth amendment. This amendment is more commonly known as the amendment that protects people from cruel or unusual punishment, but it also prohibits any excessive bail or excessive fines.
Bail Reform Act
In 1966, the Bail Reform Act was created which expanded the bail rights and allowed criminals the right to be released from jail pending trial. Just like today, the judge was required to provide a list of restrictions such as travel (not to leave the states). Judges also considered multiple factors when determining the amount of bail such as ties to the community, employment history and past record of court appearances.
After bail has been set, it is up to the person being charged and their family or friends to find the funding to pay to the court. Without the full amount, the person will remain in the custody of the police and await a trial date to determine their guilty versus non-guilty status.
In the television shows, there is no mention of bail after the scene and you may wonder how in the world someone can financially afford to pay such a large amount of money. There are a few ways that people may find the resources but one of the most common is through a bail bond company. A bail bond company will lend the amount necessary for a small fee; however, they will perform a risk assessment. If the company has any doubts that the person will show up again at their next court appearance, they may not approve to work with them and the person will need to come up with other means to pay the bail. If a bail bond company does lend the bail amount to a person, they will need something as form as collateral (real estate, vehicle, bank account balance) as security and assurance that the person will appear at their next court hearing.
So the next time you’re watching your favorite crime scene investigative television show and they mention the word bail, remember that bail is used as a tool to release a person from the custody of police and to simply ensure that a person will appear for any and all future trial dates. However, if this experience is not just from your favorite television show and something you are dealing with in your person life, give AAAA Discount Bail Bonds a call at 936-539-4444 and we can handle the details for you!