Can I Ask for a Lower Bail Amount?
Most people arrested in Broomfield County or Adams County assume that the bail amount assigned to their case is etched in stone. But is it? Does the accused have to accept the bail amount or can they ask the bail bond agent to have it lowered? First of all, the bondsman cannot change the amount of bail. But the courts can and sometimes do because of a line in the 8th amendment which states “excessive bail shall not be required”.
Those six words were added to the Bill of Rights in order to prevent the type of abuse that was common in the English system that much of US law is based on. Bail had been part of the English criminal justice system since 1275, but for centuries the powers that be abused that system by shouldering defendants they didn’t like with bail amounts they could never pay. The 8th amendment was designed to prevent that from happening here. So the answer to the question is: Yes, you can ask for lower bail.
Why We Have Bail
Contrary to a lot of misinformation circulating in the media, the bail bond company does not exist to keep poor people in jail. The sole purpose of bail is to ensure accountability on the part of the defendant. If they are released on bail, show up for their court date and are either absolved or have the charges dismissed they get their bail money back. If they fail to show up they forfeit their bail.
Recent events in states that have experimented with eliminating bail demonstrate clearly that catch and release doesn’t work as Failure to Appear rates have skyrocketed. But that’s a subject for another day.
Why Would the State Ask for High Bail?
Judges and magistrates must always keep the 8th amendment’s prohibition on excessive bail in mind when setting bail amounts. But that doesn’t stop them from sometimes assigning what seems like an unreasonable bail amount. How can that be? Because the calculus they use to determine bail amounts takes the following factors into consideration:
- The seriousness of the crime.
- The defendant’s criminal record.
- Whether the defendant has any ties to the community (family, house, etc).
- The danger that they may flee if released.
- Their current financial situation.
If the defendant is a repeat offender who is accused of committing a particularly heinous act and has jumped bail in the past, the judge or magistrate will likely set a very high bail in order to either A) keep them locked up until their court date or B) make the financial penalty so high for fleeing that the defendant will not consider jumping bail.
Judges and magistrates being human, however, they sometimes become overzealous in their desire to protect the community and assign a bail amount that cannot be justified. That’s the bad news. The good news is that if a defendant feels they are being saddled with an unreasonable bail amount they can request a reduction.
Requesting More Affordable Bail Bonds
If you feel that the amount of bail requested by the court is excessive the Constitution gives you the right to appeal for a lower amount. This is done during a bail hearing.
During the bail hearing, your lawyer (not the bail bond agent) has the right to argue that the amount of bail in your case is inappropriately high. To make their point they may argue that:
- The crime you are accused of does not warrant such a high bail.
- You do not represent a flight risk.
- You do not present a danger to the community.
- You have little or no criminal history.
If family members depend on your presence and your income your attorney might also argue that such a high bail will virtually guarantee you stay locked up thereby causing harm to those family members. In other cases, the attorney may simply argue that neither you, nor your loved ones could possibly pay such a high bail which would, by some definitions, make it excessive.
The court will take your attorney’s argument into consideration, but there is no guarantee the judge or magistrate will ultimately acquiesce and agree to a reduced bail amount. If they decide to reject the argument for lower bail they will be compelled to enter into the record why the bail amount they set is necessary.
What About the Opposite? Can the State Increase the Bail Amount?
In some instances, prosecutors may object to lowering your bail and make an impassioned case that the judge let it stand. In other cases, prosecutors may object to what they consider an inappropriately low bail set by the judge or magistrate and request that it be increased. This sometimes happens with wealthy defendants for whom even large bail amounts are but a drop in the bucket.
The prosecutor may also argue that the defendant be held without bail. If the court is convinced by the prosecutor’s argument they may well increase the defendant’s bail or order them to be held without bail while awaiting trial.
For Affordable 24 Hour Bail Bonds in Adams County Trust Urban Bail Bonds
Bail has become a political tool for some self-serving politicians and “activists”. But despite the controversy surrounding the practice bail remains an important component of the American justice system. If you suddenly find yourself in need of a reliable bonding company, get in touch with the team at Urban Bail Bonds. We’re here to help.