When someone is arrested and incarcerated for a crime in the state of Florida, that person may be able to obtain a conditional release from jail by posting bail. But it’s important to note that not every defendant qualifies for bail. Typically, those who do qualify have their bail amount set within 24–72 hours of the arrest, or in some circumstances, they must request a bond hearing to obtain a bail amount.
Regardless of the method by which the court sets bail, the dollar amount of the defendant’s bail is related to the type and severity of the alleged crime. Read on to learn how the court decides whether defendants qualify for bail and how the judge determines each person’s bail amount.
Who Qualifies for Bail?
The court determines whether a defendant qualifies for bail based on their previous criminal history and the severity and nature of the person’s alleged crime. If the defendant has a history of criminal activity or is accused of committing a particularly violent or impactful crime, he or she may not be granted bail.
Other common reasons a defendant may be denied bail include:
- The individual has been incarcerated previously and has a history of skipping court dates.
- The court has received information from a credible source that the defendant won’t appear in court if granted bail.
- The defendant is a serious flight risk.
Determining a Person’s Bail Amount: Factors the Court Considers
If the court determines that a defendant is eligible for bail, the judge will look at a variety of factors to figure out what an appropriate bail amount should be. These factors include:
- Bail schedules. Standardized bail schedules correlate common crimes with predetermined bail amounts, and these schedules vary by jurisdiction. Under some circumstances, bail may already be set according to the bail schedule before the defendant even goes through the booking process.
- Criminal history. If a defendant has a history of criminal activity, he or she may be issued a higher bail amount than someone who has never been accused of a crime.
- Validity and amount of available evidence. If the court has ample and verifiable evidence that could result in the defendant’s conviction for the alleged charge, the judge will likely set bail higher than if there wasn’t a large collection of evidence.
- Seriousness of the alleged criminal act. The severity of the alleged criminal act is the greatest determining factor when a judge sets bail. If the alleged crime was minor, the defendant will likely be issued a much lower bail amount than if the alleged crime was violent or otherwise severe.
- Potential flight risk. If the defendant has no family ties or ties to the community, the court may assume the individual is a flight risk. Other factors play into this determination as well, but the main point here is that anyone determined to be a flight risk may be issued a high bail amount or may not get bail at all.
- Public or personal safety risk. If the court determines the defendant is a risk to the public or to themselves, the court may set a correspondingly high bail amount to make it difficult for the person to post bail. If the individual poses a serious safety risk, he or she may be denied bail and must remain in jail until the closure of the case.
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