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Bail Reduction: Frequently Asked Questions

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After an arrest, a defendant is booked and place in a holding cell while they wait to go before a judge. The judge will take several points into consideration before determining if the defendant is free to leave, denying bail, or assigning a bail amount. If the bail amount is high, you can ask the judge for a bail reduction. For many, this reduction makes it more feasible to obtain the assistance of a bail bondsman.

Here are a few frequently asked questions you might have about bail reduction:

Why Would a Judge Order a Higher Bail Amount?

The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution prohibits judges from imposing excessive bail amounts on defendants. According to Nolo, many states now use an algorithm to determine the cost of the defendant's bail. Whether the judge uses the algorithm, the state's limits on bail amounts, or their own discretion, there are several factors that are used to determine a fair bond amount, including:

  • The defendant's criminal history
  • The nature of the crime
  • The defendant's age
  • The defendant's history with the court

The judge will also consider if you have a steady job, family, and ties to your community. For example, if you have a steady job, a family, and a support system, you are more likely to adhere to the conditions of your release.

How Will My Attorney Help Get My Bail Reduced?

If a defendant cannot afford bail because the nature of the crime, their criminal history makes it high, the defendant is out of work, or they simply don't have the funds, their attorney can file a motion to have their bail reduced. When the motion to reduce bail is based upon the defendant's finances, they must provide proof of their inability to pay, such as pay stubs or outstanding debt.

Next, depending on the defendant's home state, the court will either set a hearing date or the defendant will need to schedule the hearing on their own. During the hearing, the judge will ask for the proof the defendant cannot afford bail and proof that they have ties to the community that will make them adhere to the condition of their bail.

What Are the Consequences of Asking for a Bond Reduction Hearing?

Unfortunately, there are some negative consequences that can come with filing a motion to have bail reduced. For example, the judge will ask for specifics of the case. If the defendant testifies and certain aspects of the case come to light, it could be used against them at the trial.

The judge may also impose strict conditions along with the decreased bail amount. For instance, the judge may require the defendant to agree to random drug tests, abstain for drinking alcohol, or have a curfew.

What Happens If My Bond Is Still Too High or Wasn't Reduced?

Despite a defendant's best efforts, they may still be denied a bail reduction, or the bond might still be too high. Whatever the case, you can still ask a local bail bondsman to help you get out of jail and prepare for your hearing. To post bail, you will need to have enough collateral to cover the entire bond, a cosigner who has enough assets or money to cover the cost of the bond, and the ability to pay a small fee to the bondsman. If you adhere to the conditions of your bond, which includes making your court appearances, you or your cosigner will not be held responsible for the remainder of your bond.

If you or a loved one is ever arrested, and the bail amount is excessive, you can file a motion to have it reduced. You can also ask for the assistance of a bail bondsman if you cannot afford your bail.