This is an amount, either monetary or in the form of property, which will be used to ensure the Defendant returns for future court hearings and trial proceedings. According to the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, “Excessive bail shall not be required.”
The Judge is responsible for setting a bond amount which will allow the Defendant to remain free until the conclusion of the case. An OR Bond, or own recognizance bond, can be given instead of requesting money or property.
Depending on the individual case, preventative detention perhaps is necessary to ensure the Defendant returns for a trial. For example, it would be inconceivable for an individual to have a low bond when he or she is accused of a heinous and violent crime leading to serious harm or the death of another. In these cases, Judges set the bond amount so high that it is unlikely the individual will be out of jail pending completion of the case. Additionally, bond may be denied if a Judge fears the Defendant will not return for future hearings or is apt to threaten and harass the victim while free.
Judges consider many factors when deciding a bond amount. The seriousness of the crime and any harm caused to the victim plays an important role. Judges also look for strong ties to the community, the nearby presence of family and friends who will encourage a return to Court, past criminal history, employment history, and previous compliance or non-compliance with any bonds in past cases. The bond amount is returned at the completion of the case if the Defendant shows up for all Court appearances. Otherwise, the Court may hold onto the money or property pledged for the Defendant’s return.
Judges can require different payment amounts for bonds prior to releasing a Defendant. For example, a Judge may require 10% of the bond amount or 100% of the bond amount prior to releasing a Defendant. Bail Bondsmen normally keep 10% of the full amount of the bond for their services, even if the Defendant appears for all future hearings. The Clerk’s Office charges small fees when processing the bond.