Updated: July 17, 2019
- How Is The Bail Amount Set?
- Who Sets The Bail Amount?
- How Can Bail Amount Be Lowered?
- Bail Amounts for Common Misdemeanor Charges
- Bail Amounts for Common Misdemeanor Charges
Our comprehensive guide shows bail amounts you may see for various crimes, both felonies and misdemeanors. How the bail amount is set can depend on many factors. Bail amounts are set by each jurisdiction so there is variance to what the exact bail bond amount will be.
Judges can have input so there is a human factor to the exact amount. Bail Bonds Network’s research focuses on bail amounts set in different states, from high net worth states to lower income areas in order to capture the most comprehensive average bail amounts.
While many factors play a role in setting the bail amount, the key factors that play a role in the determination of the bail amount are:
- Your age
- If you have any other current charges
- Your criminal history
- Prior record of not appearing to court
- Your perceived threat or danger to the victim, family, or any member of the public
- Record of substance / drug abuse or a threat to oneself by suicide or other means
Significant differences exist in costs of bail bonds depending on the charge being a misdemeanor vs a felony – felony charges can be 5 to 10 times higher due to the potential flight risk from a possible long-term sentence. Capital crimes, such as murder with substantial evidence, may not have a bail amount set due to the significant risk of harm to others. The same applies for major felony charges where there is strong evidence that bodily harm was done.
If a person was previously convicted of a capital crime and served their time and was released, but was later arrested again, that person will typically not be allowed to post bail in most counties.
Laws are in place to protect the arrested person, especially during this vulnerable and difficult time. If the arrested individual is stuck in jail without a bail amount set, or if the bail amount is set at a price that’s above their financial means, then that individual has the right to bring their case to the overseeing judge and the Court of Appeals where they can claim improper process and a lack of fair due-process around reducing the bail amount. Each county and jurisdiction handles this process differently – some more pro-defendant vs others who are more firm in holding the position that was initially set. This is one of the main reasons why bail reform is a sensitive topic.
States in the South and Midwest where living expenses are typically lower and individuals have lower income, the bail amount set for DUI/DWI starts around $2,500 for the first offense. A 2nd and 3rd offense increased by an additional $2,500. These rates are towards the higher end for low income states. States like Texas and New Mexico take a strong stance against drunk driving and set bail higher to discourage behavior.
The bail amount can be set forth in the bail schedule for each county jail, or by a judge or magistrate.
- Bail Schedule
Many counties have bail schedules that show bail prices for different crimes. These are starting points when it comes to bail amounts. If the arrested person is not a repeat offender who presents significant risk outside of the standard levels, the bail schedule will typically apply. Posting the bail amount on the bail schedule is the fastest way to be released from jail.
The magistrate is an official who is below the judge. Magistrates often handle the process of setting the initial bail amount per county guidelines. They are used more frequently if bail schedules are not publicly accessible in their jurisdiction, and they handle lighter crimes like misdemeanors but also various felonies. A meeting can be set with the magistrate to push back on the bail amount set if the bail price was set at an unreasonable amount for the defendant.
Bail amounts can be set by judges for more significant felonies. Judges are also involved in the bail amount if the defendant makes a claim against the initial bail amount set, especially when lawyers and an official complaint is filed. We often see this in the media when popular public figures are arrested and various court hearings are scheduled to determine if the bail amount can be adjusted, or if a ruling of “cash bail” only or even no-bail can be reduced to something more obtainable.
Unfortunately, in states where the magistrate handles the setting of bail amounts, there can be a wide range of prices set. While there are rules and guidelines for magistrates to follow, it does not guaranteed that judgement and bias won’t come into play. “Stereotyping” might be too facile to describe the behavior, but it’s not out of question for magistrates and judges to draw unfair conclusions when it comes to the bail amount set. A lawyer should be involved if the crime is significant or if the defendant feels unfairly treated in the hearings. This gray area and uncertainty around how bail will be set by a magistrate or judge leads us back to bail schedules. It’s usually a benefit to see bail schedules posted in counties. Not all counties have them but it’s the first thing to check – and if the bail amount is unattainable in the fee schedule, then a magistrate or judge can be consulted as an alternate option to lower costs.
To reduce the bail amount set, it’s highly recommended to proactively pursue all of the below options to increase the odds of the judge lowering the bail amount.
- Electronic Monitoring Device
- Alcohol / Drug Vehicular Locking System
- Bond Reduction Letter
- House Arrest
- Voluntary Drug Testing / Rehab
Terms should be laid out by the county officials in clear writing that explains how the technology works and any limitations or inaccuracies with the geo specific monitoring, as well as steps to take if an issue arises due to technology. The exact geo fencing lines should be explained so the defendant clearly understands the limitations around movement to stay within allowed geo boundaries.
If arrest resulted because of drug or alcohol use while operating a vehicle, it’s highly recommended to proactively approach the court to voluntarily install an ignition locking device to ensure the vehicle will not be operated while under influence. Costs will need to be covered by the person seeking release from jail.
Write a letter to the judge requesting a reduction of the bail amount. Make it emotional and make sure it comes from the heart. The letter should touch on your personal relationship to the arrested person, and why you are vouching for them, and reasons why their bail amount should be reduced. Use various suggestions in this article to recommend proactive steps that the person is willing to take (and that you’re willing to supervise) to ensure a successful transition back into the real world.
Offer the court the option of house arrest, ensuring you will limit your travel and will only leave the premise under supervision and prior agreement.
Returning at a set time limits risk for the court and shows goodwill from the defendant. Most crimes occur after-hours.
Costs will need to be covered by the defendant. Scheduling is set by the courts randomly for drug testing. Rehab or alcohol intervention is highly recommended and further shows the proactive steps taken by the defendant. Agreeing to these terms must be done in writing. Not following through with the commitments can lead to re-arrest with increased bail set, and possibly unattainable conditions for release.
It’s important to note that additional fees are possible for equipment, supervision, and drug testing.