When a defendant is taken before a judge after booking and arrest, they are given the opportunity to look over the details of the charges as well as other factors to decide what would be the appropriate cost to set bond at or if it should even be offered at all. If you have ever wondered what a judge looks for when deciding what to set bond at, here is an overview.
What is the defendant being charged for
This is the biggest and most important point a judge looks at when deciding upon bail. If a defendant was arrested for a misdemeanor and has no prior offenses, then most likely the judge will offer the defendant personal recognizance which allows the defendant to be released by simply signing a contract saying they will report to their hearing but they won’t have to pay a bond. For more serious charges, the judge will take into account whether violence was involved and things like this could either make the cost of the bond go up exponentially or they could deny bond completely.
Do they have a previous record
Beyond just the current charges, a judge will also look at the defendants entire criminal history as a whole. If this is a first time offense then the judge will probably be more flexible but if there are multiple charges spanning years and they tend to be for the same type of crime then most likely a judge will be a bit harsher on what they send the bond at.
Is it safe for them to be out on release
Probably the very first thing that a judge looks into when deciding on a bond is if the defendant could be considered a danger to society. The judge cannot in good conscience release someone even temporarily that could inflict harm upon others so if the charges are especially violent or even if there is a threat to the defendant themselves, they could just deny bail so that the defendant is off the streets to avoid any further damage to others.
What are the chances they will flee
The final thing that will be considered is the relative resources of the defendant and what are the overall chances that they won’t show up to court. If the defendant is possibly looking at a lot of time and they have the resources to travel it may be a risk because they could simply try and flee or if they were arrested in one state but live in another their bond would possibly be higher because they don’t want to travel back. A judge will look at the flight risk and set it accordingly.