How is Bail Established?

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Bail is defined as “the temporary release of an accused person awaiting trial, sometimes on condition that a sum of money be lodged to guarantee their appearance in court.”  If you have been arrested and held in custody, a judge may allow for your release, contingent upon certain conditions like a monetary payment.

Whether bail is set and the amount is based on several factors and the judge’s discretion.  Some jurisdictions might provide a bail schedule, providing for the amount based on the crime.  However, release conditions depend on the nature of the charge and the weight of the evidence.  The court also considers factors directly related to the specific individual, including community connections, health and well-being, employment, a record of convictions, and whether the individual poses a danger to the community.  If the crime is especially serious, like a violent felony, the judge may deny bail altogether, which means the defendant must remain in custody until the conclusion of the case.  Or, if the offense is a low-level misdemeanor, a judge may set no monetary bail and only require non-monetary conditions on release.

Release conditions are usually imposed in every case where bail is set. The conditions may include: ordering no contact between perpetrators and victims, prohibiting the consumption of alcohol or drugs, requiring drug or alcohol treatment, requiring mental health evaluation and treatment, prohibiting firearm possession, and restricting travel.  These are just a few examples of some of the release conditions a judge may set.  The conditions on release will typically depend on the specific facts of the case.  For example, if there is an allegation of domestic violence, the judge will typically put a no-contact order condition on release to ensure the alleged perpetrator does not have any contact with the victim.

The release conditions are in effect until the resolution of the case, unless a judge finds good cause to modify the conditions.  Because of the conditions set, it is crucial to abide by the conditions and the law during your release.  If you violate the conditions set on bail or fail to appear in court, your bail is typically forfeited to the court.  This means you lose any right to whatever sum of money you paid to the court in exchange for your promise to abide by the conditions and appear in court.

If you have been charged with a crime and need assistance with bail, speak with criminal defense attorney Tatum O’Brien at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Attorneys in Fargo, North Dakota to discuss your case or call 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002.