When Can A Judge Raise Bail?
- by Tori Green
Many people aren’t aware of this, and it can come as a very unpleasant surprise: judges can actually raise bail after it’s set. The original bail can be paid and the defendant can be released—only to then be notified that they will need to pay even more than they were told.
So why does this happen, and how?
First, How is Bail Set?
A judge will take several things into consideration when setting the amount for bail. These things include how serious or violent the crime is that the defendant is involved in; the circumstances of the crime; the defendant’s current conduct and their past criminal record; the probability of the defendant skipping their court
date; if the defendant has a job and the defendant’s history within the community.
A starting point for a judge to decide the bail amount is typically a bail schedule, which is a list of pre-set bail amounts for different charges. Each bail schedule
varies from state to state.
Why Do Judges Sometimes Raise Bail?
As if getting arrested and going through the bailout process isn’t bad enough, many defendants find out a little later that the judge has, in fact, raised their bail
amount. But why does this happen?
In order for a judge to increase the bail amount, there has to be a change in circumstances. This can mean that the defendant has new charges against him
or her that are more serious than the ones that the original bail was posted on. While the original bail amount may have been set for something like a misdemeanor, a judge may raise the bail amount when the crime is discovered to be more complex and serious and/or violent after the charge is further reviewed.
A judge may also raise the bail amount after it’s been paid if there was a victim involved in the crime whose injuries become worse or end up resulting in a life-
If the defendant seems to be a danger to themselves, to others, or if they do not honor the conditions of their release, the judge may also raise the bail amount in this case as well.
There Will Need to be a Reason
A judge can never raise a bail amount simply because they feel like it. There has to be a legitimate reason—a change in circumstances—and they must state this
reason on record. The defendant must also be told about any raise in bail with at least three hours’ notice in order to prepare.
After the bail amount is determined by a judge, the defendant will then be given the opportunity to pay for (or arrange payment for) their bail. Once it’s paid, the
defendant can go home, and will then need to wait for the beginning of their trial.
Paying for Bail Through a Bondsman
Often, the bail amount is set so high that neither the defendant nor their loved one is able to pay it. In this case, they will most likely visit a professional bail
bondsman, who will post a bail bond for them. In exchange for this bail bond, a percentage of the bail amount will need to be paid, as well as collateral for the
remainder of the bond. Collateral can include a house, a car, or anything else with a lot of monetary value.
If the defendant does everything right and shows up to his or her court dates, no more money will be required—unless, of course, the judge raises the bail
amount. The collateral will be returned, but the bail bondsman’s percentage fee will not.
Hopefully, this article sheds a little light on why judges can sometimes raise the bail amount—and hopefully, it will never happen to you!