If you have been taken into custody after being charged with a crime, it is possible that you will be required to pay a fee to get out of jail. This payment is known as bail, and you may be able to get it back at the conclusion of your case. How is bail determined, and how can an attorney help you get your bail amount reduced?
How Is Bail Determined?
Bail is determined based on a number of factors unique to your case. For instance, if you have committed a misdemeanor, your bail will likely be less than if you committed a felony. This is because felonies are considered to be more serious offenses, and letting you go may pose a higher risk to the community. Examples of felonies are rape, murder and arson.
Bail may also be determined by your criminal record. If you have previous convictions or have been charged numerous times in the past, you may pose a greater risk to the community if you are allowed to go free. However, a first-offender may be given a lower bail amount or even be allowed to be released on his or her own recognizance.
Finally, your bail will be determined by the likelihood that you will flee if let out of custody. For instance, if you have connections to other countries that don’t have extradition agreements or tell a judge that you don’t plan on staying, your bail will be higher than normal if you are granted bail at all.
How Can An Attorney Help You Reduce Your Bail?
An attorney can use several tactics in an effort to reduce the amount of your bail. First, it may be possible to argue that you are not a flight risk because you believe in your innocence and look forward to arguing your case. Legal counsel may also establish that you have ties to the community such as a job, a business or a nonprofit organization that you have to oversee.
Bail may be reduced if you can show that there were extenuating circumstances related to either this charge or previous charges. For instance, if you were charged with a murder in the past, your attorney may bring up the fact that it was actually in self-defense but local laws mandated a minimum sentence for using a firearm to commit the crime. This shows that you aren’t likely to be a danger to the community if allowed to go free pending your case.
Conditions May Be Placed on Your Bail
Another way to successfully get bail reduced may be to offer concessions to the court. Those who have passports may offer to turn them in to reduce the risk of being a flight risk prior to a case. Other related concessions may be turning in a drivers license or agreeing not to use a private plane or boat until the case is resolved.
Other conditions may be that you are not allowed to use a computer or a cell phone as it could be used to make contact with your alleged victim. You may also have to agree to drug testing or a curfew to ensure your freedom comes at a reasonable cost. If you are put under a curfew, it may be waived if you need to work late or have another good reason to be out past that time.
If you don’t think that your bail was reasonable based on your crime and criminal history, you should consider asking for a reduction. At a reduction hearing, an attorney may be able to help establish that you are good person who deserves the benefit of the doubt. In some cases, having an individual living at home allows that person to provide for his or her family while reducing the amount taxpayers pay to house and feed that person.
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