A bail is the posting of money by a person accused of a crime so he or she can be released temporarily while waiting for trial. The money will be refunded if that person appears in court during the trial.
Every state in the United States has its own bail practices although all follow the same types and forms.
Everyone accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty. And he or she can post bail as long as the crime committed is bailable under the law.
However, even if the crime is bailable, the court can deny bail to an accused if he or she is considered a danger to the community where he or she lives or to the public in general. This is called “protective detention” where the defendant’s right to bail is subject to “public safety exceptions.”
Under the Bail Reform Act of 1984, bail is denied to persons who committed a capital offense where the possible penalty is death, such as first-degree murder.
Bail can also be denied to individuals who committed crimes that carry a maximum penalty of life in prison or death; drug offenses with a conviction of at least ten years imprisonment; crimes of violence; any crime committed by an individual who was already convicted of at least two previous crimes; and crimes that involve minor victims.
Bail denial is also possible for those who committed a noncapital crime such as when a person is charged with a crime that involves violence or sexual assault and if there is a great possibility that the defendant will cause bodily harm to another person if released.
In denying an accused’s request for bail, the judge will take into consideration the seriousness of possible danger that the defendant may pose to the victim, to the community and the public; the nature and circumstances of the charges hurled against the accused; his or her personal characteristics and criminal history; and the strength of the evidence presented by the prosecution in court.
When talking about personal characteristics, the judge may look into the accused’s family ties, mental health history, previous employment and possible incidents of substance abuse.
In denying the bail request, the judge usually includes the reasons why such request is denied. But the defendant has the right to appeal the decision in a higher court.