What To Do If Bail Is Set At An Unaffordable Level

The setting of bail is a well-known part of the criminal court process. While it is understandable judges want to make sure people show up for court, sometimes they set bail too high or at levels they know defendants can't afford.

However, people stuck in this situation have some recourse for getting the amount of the bail bond lowered or eliminated altogether:

Appeal the Bail Order

One way to get high bail reduced is to request a bail reduction hearing. The exact process varies from state to state, but generally involves filing a motion for bond reduction. Once this motion is received by the court, a hearing is scheduled where you can make an argument for getting the amount of bail you're being charged lowered.

There are several factors that go into determining the bail amount for a particular defendant:

  • The seriousness or heinousness of the crime
  • The charges levied against the person
  • Whether the defendant is a danger to himself and/or the community
  • The person's ties to the community (e.g. family, employment)
  • The person's ability to flee (e.g. passport status, friends or family in another country)
  • Criminal record and the nature of previous crimes
  • Track record with the court (e.g. failed to appear previously)

At the bail hearing, you can advise the court that you're unable to afford the bond as it is currently set. However, you'll also need to address the other components to make a compelling case for lowering the bond amount. For example, you'll need to convince the court you're not a flight risk by showing you have strong ties to the community. You can also have other people submit letters on your behalf speaking to your good character.

If the judge accepts your argument, then he or she will reduce the bail or allow you to be released on your own recognizance (no bail required). Be aware, though, that many times you'll have to appear before the same judge who set the bail in the first place, so winning the appeal may be a challenge.

Submit a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Appealing a bail order can only be done if the order is final. In some states, bail is an interlocutory order that can be changed at any time, which puts into a type of limbo that prevents defendants from filing a formal appeal.

In this situation, you'll need to file a writ of habeas corpus. This is a type of legal procedure that allows defendants to challenge the lawfulness of the courts' actions. Once the court receives this writ, a civil case is opened where you can provide testimony and evidence supporting your request to have the bail amount reduced or eliminated.

Using either of these options will involve quite a bit of legal maneuvering. Obtaining the help of a criminal attorney can increases your chances of successfully get your bail amount set to a reasonable level. To learn more, contact a company like Kaiser Law Group with any questions or concerns you have.