As your bail bondsman in Virginia will explain, a judge considers many different factors when it comes to setting your bail. Bail is the amount of money a criminal defendant pays to the court in order to secure his or her immediate release from jail. In return, the defendant must promise to return for all court dates and obligations. A judge has some discretion in setting a dollar amount. Keep reading to learn about which factors a judge considers when setting bail, including crime severity, past record, and community ties.
Sometimes, a defendant is not required to pay any bail at all, while other defendants cannot be released no matter how much they pay to a bail bondsman. Whether a judge sets a high bail—or denies bail altogether—has a lot to do with the severity of the criminal charge. A bail bonds service can usually help. However, in high profile murder cases or espionage cases, bail may be denied or set in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. Judges generally reason that criminals who potentially face the death penalty sentence are more likely to flee.
A judge also considers whether a particular defendant has a criminal record when he or she sets a bail amount. If you have a substantial criminal record, you and your bails bondsman will likely be required to post a higher bail. Your bail will also probably be higher if you have a history of missed court dates. The court’s first obligation is to make sure that all criminal defendants appear for their trials so the justice system can function more efficiently.
Significant community ties can weigh in favor of a lower bail amount. If you have a spouse, children, and parents who live in the same city or state, you are less likely to flee. Additionally, defendants who work at local jobs and need their incomes to support children or other dependents may secure lower bails. However, asking a judge for lower bail based on ties to the community is only effective for individuals charged with nonviolent crimes.