Many people don’t know that a judge can raise a defendant’s bail amount even after it’s set. This often comes as a very unwelcome surprise for individuals who’ve already posted bail, been released from jail, and then to find out they must pay more than they were initially told.
At A Right Choice Bail Bonds, we understand that posting bail is a confusing process for many people. That’s why we work diligently to help our clients understand bail bonds and make the choices that best meet their needs and the needs of their loved ones. Continue reading to learn how the bail process works and why judges can raise bail under specific circumstances.
Setting Bail: How It Works
Before we break down why a judge might raise a defendant’s original bail, it’s helpful to understand how bail is set in the first place. Knowing the factors that can affect bail and how they play into a judge’s decision will help you better understand why bail can sometimes change after it’s been set.
So how does a judge set bail?
First and foremost, the judge considers the severity of the alleged crime in determining a suitable bail amount. Other factors taken into consideration include:
- The likelihood that the defendant will skip out on his or her court date (how much of a flight risk the person is)
- The defendant’s current conduct
- Whether the defendant has an existing criminal record
- The circumstances of the crime
As a starting point, a judge may use something called a bail schedule, which lists out predetermined bail amounts that correspond with different criminal charges. Then, based on any other factors that play into the alleged crime and current circumstances, a judge may alter those predetermined amounts at his or her discretion. Please note that bail schedules vary from state to state.
Why Would a Judge Raise Bail?
Judges don’t raise bail just to be vindictive or prevent defendants from enjoying their freedom until a case is closed. Rather, judges raise bail when circumstances surrounding the defendant or the alleged crime change. This might mean that the defendant has new charges pending against him or her, or that the initial charges did not fully convey the seriousness or complexity of the alleged crime. Such factors include:
A misdemeanor versus a felony. If an original bail amount was set for a minor crime, such as a misdemeanor, if the court learns that the alleged crime was in fact a felony, bail can change. A judge can (and usually will) raise bail in such a circumstance even if the defendant has already been released from jail.
Injured victim(s). If the court learns that victims who were involved in the crime sustained injuries that are growing worse, a judge may raise bail. This may be especially true if any of the victims end up suffering from a lifelong condition connected to the alleged crime.
The defendant is potentially dangerous. If a judge determines that the defendant may be a danger to themselves or anyone else, he or she may raise the original bail amount.
Failure to honor conditions of release. If a defendant posts bail but then fails to honor the conditions of his or her release, such as failure to appear in court, a judge may raise bail.
Essentially, there must be a well-defined reason for a judge to raise a defendant’s original bail. The increase is never arbitrary and is always related to a change in circumstances, which the judge must document on record. Defendants must also be notified of any change to their bail within a maximum of three hours, so they can prepare accordingly.
Once a change has been issued, the defendant will then be given an opportunity to pay the additional amount themselves or arrange another form of payment. After payment has been made, the defendant can then await their court appearances at home.
A Right Choice Bail Bonds: Trusted Bail Bondsmen in Calcasieu Parish
When you need fast bail bond services in Lake Charles, LA, or the surrounding area, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team at A Right Choice Bail Bonds. We’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for your convenience, and we do our best to secure release from jail within a matter of hours. We provide multiple types of bonds and a variety of payment options, and we strive to accommodate the needs of our clients to the best of our ability. To learn more about our services or to speak with a licensed bond agent, call our office today at (337) 429-2996orcontact us online.