Can Bail Be Changed or Dropped?

arrested person

Dealing With Arrest and Bail

When a person is arrested and taken to jail, most of the time, they can post bail and be released until their court date with certain bail conditions. Bail money is not a fine or punishment. It is a financial obligation to ensure that defendant will appear in court. When the trial is completed, the bail money is returned less any processing fees charged by the court.

The bail amount and any bail conditions are determined by the judge who uses several factors to determine the amount of bail or magistrate decides the amount of bail by weighing many factors:

  • the defendant’s risk factor of fleeing,
  • the crime committed,
  • the danger the defendant is to others and self

Bail conditions are typically along the lines that the defendant cannot have communication with the victim, cannot travel out of state, etc. Bail conditions and court requirements are at the discretion of the judge.

Instead of bail, a defendant may be released on their recognizance. Specific standards must be met by the defendant, such as steady employment, community standing, personal circumstances, and any prior criminal history.

If a financial bail is required, and the defendant is unable to pay the required amount to the court, they can use the services of a bail bonds person. They will typically require a certain percentage. Ten percent is standard for the bonds person to post bail. The defendant and the co-signer of the bond must agree to certain bail conditions set forth by the bail bonds person.

Can bail be reduced?

The federal government put in place the Bail Reform Act that allows a defendant to request a hearing for bail reduction. At this hearing, the defendant can state the initial bail amount, and bail conditions are set so that they are unable to afford the bail or meet the bail conditions.

The lower courts are required to listen to the argument and take the points made into consideration. However, they are not required to reduce the bail or change the bail conditions as long as there isn’t any proof the court can justify the bail amount and level of bail conditions.

Why would a judge reduce bail?

A judge can lower, raise, or waive bail that was set. It is recommended a defendant have an attorney present at the bail hearing to request any bail changes or changed bail conditions.  The attorney can present sound reasons why the bail should be reduced or waived and why bail conditions should be changed.  Reasons that a judge will need to hear are:

  • The defendant is not a danger to their community
  • The defendant is not a danger to themselves
  • The defendant has no prior criminal history
  • The defendant has no record of missing previous court dates

Things that can work in a defendant’s favor to have bail reduced or waived and Why bail conditions changed are:

  • Defendant has strong community ties
  • Defendant has long term employment
  • Defendant has local family vouch for them
  • Defendant has a severe financial hardship

If the judge denies the request to reduce or waive the bail or change the bail conditions initially, he or she may reconsider how bail conditions change at a later date.  These changes may happen when the defendant is without legal representation at first, and their attorney can provide additional evidence in favor of the defendant and the request.

Why would someone’s bail be raised?

Being arrested, put in jail, and dealing with posting bail is terrible enough, but did you know that the judge can increase your bail or change the bail conditions? Well, they can, even after the original bail has been posted, and the defendant has been released.  

No, they can’t arbitrarily change the bail amount or bail conditions. They have to have a legitimate and logical reason, and the defendant must be advised and allowed time to make the additional bail. Legitimate reasons for a bail increase or change in bail conditions could be:

  • New charges against the defendant
  • Further review of the original crime is more complex or severe than thought
  • The victim injuries worsen, become lifelong, or they die
  • If the defendant is a danger to themselves, to others, or if they
  • The defendant doesn’t honor the bail conditions

Can you reverse a bail bond?

Posting bail for a loved one, or anyone, should not be taken lightly. If that person doesn’t appear in court or meets the bail conditions set by the judge, you will be responsible for the total bail amount. If you put any property up to secure the bail, you will lose that in addition to paying the full bail.

So, what happens if the person you co-signed a bail bond skips out? Before you co-sign a bond, ask the bail bond agent if the agreement has a revoke clause. If you decide to revoke the bond, advise the bail bond agent, and they will advise the court.  

Judge doing bail decision

What are the four types of bail?

A criminal bail bond is a financial guarantee that the defendant will appear for all court dates. If the defendant misses a court date, the amount paid for bail is forfeited, and an arrest warrant is issued. Four common bail bond types secure a defendant’s release:

  • Own Recognizance
  • Cash bond
  • Property bond
  • Professional bondsman

Staying out of legal troubles is the best thing to do. However, things happen, even unknowingly. If you are arrested, hiring an attorney should be the first thing you do, even before you’re arraigned. They will represent you and work with the judge to lower or raise your bail and ease your bail conditions. Call 434-237-2245 today for bail help.