Bail is an option that the judge decides whether to set in a suspect’s case. It is a required amount of money that an incarcerated suspect or his or her friends, family, or representatives must lend to the jail as collateral for the suspect’s release. The money is returned to the payer when the suspect shows up to his or her next scheduled court appearance. If the suspect does not show up to court, then the bail money is forfeited to the jail. There is no right to bail where the suspect is charged with a crime punishable by life imprisonment or death, but the judge may nevertheless grant bail. These crimes include murder, sexual battery, kidnapping, burglary, or robbery. Generally, if the judge is going to allow bail, the judge must believe that the suspect will return to court when requested. Some of the factors involved in the judge’s determination are whether the suspect has family in the area, whether the suspect is working, whether the suspect has a criminal record, whether the suspect has a history of failing to appear in court, and where the suspect resides. If the suspect does not face serious criminal charges, is a responsible person in the community, and is not a flight risk, then the judge may decide to release him or her without setting bail. In essence, the judge releases the suspect on his or her own recognizance. The suspect’s attorney may later file a motion for reduction of bail if it seems excessive or if the evidence against the suspect is weak.
The information on this page does not represent legal advice. Because the law is continually changing, some of the provisions contained herein may be out of date. It is always wise to seek counsel from an experienced criminal attorney like Kenneth Hassett.