Bail schedules are an effective way of making the system more efficient, and getting people released earlier.
In the criminal justice system, there are opposing forces that have to be balanced. One of the biggest conflicts that the system faces is the fact that when someone is arrested on suspicion of having committed a crime, there may be reason to keep them detained while awaiting court proceedings, while at the same time, we subscribe as a nation to the concept of “innocent until proven guilty”.
Judges are meant to show discretion.
One of the ways that we as a society have sought to address this tension is to provide judges with discretion based on experience, knowledge and learned wisdom. In theory, an experienced judge, free of biases and using the information and evidence available at the time, can make a case-by-case determination about whether to hold or release someone accused of a crime.
However, seeking to allow for each case to be determined on its merits introduces other issues. The system deals with high volumes of cases, and delays have very significant impacts on people’s lives. Efficiency needs to be as much of a goal as fairness in these cases, and so there are tools and guidelines applied to the most repetitive aspects of the system to allow judges to move as quickly as practicable through the caseload they manage.
One such tool that has grown in use and popularity is the application of a “bail schedule”. In a system of cash bail, the determination of an arrestee’s bail can be a time consuming step, and so a bail schedule provides a first pass guide to apply a certain bail amount to certain common situations. The use of a bail schedule assumes that common situations are resolved in a relatively consistent way, and that the likelihood of an arrestee showing up at court proceedings is relatively constant given the same factors.
Not everyone agrees that bail schedules work.
There are some that argue that bail schedules are too constrictive, and do not allow for necessary judicial discretion, even for minor offences.
But for those that get out early, the impact is substantial.
The use of bail schedules, whether informally developed or written into law, provides for one additional benefit, which is to allow for bail to be posted without a judge. A bail schedule can be used during booking and processing to allow for release for common charges under common circumstances, freeing up courts and other elements of the system to deal with the uncommon and the more serious.
As a rule, bail schedules used in jails are inflexible, and amounts are set in relation to the seriousness of the crime, with felony charges requiring posted bail of five to ten times that of misdemeanors.
Whatever the charge that you or a loved one are facing, if you’re in need of a bail bond to secure release, call Fred Frank Bail Bonds today at 410-367-2245 or find us online at fredfrankbailbonds.com.