Law & Order And Outrageous Bail Amounts: Do They Really Happen?

If you are a fan of crime dramas, then you probably have seen several episodes of the longest running series on TV--Law & Order, or its long-running spin-off Law & Order SVU.  Either way, the most jaw-dropping episodes frequently contain a suspect who's bail is set in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more. If you know anything about bail bonds, you might be wondering, "How in the world could anyone afford that?" or "Does that really happen?" Here is some stark reality on the subject of bail bonds so you know that this is TV Land and it does not always portray real life.

Flight Risks and the Wealthy

First off, to set bail above twenty, thirty, forty or even fifty thousand dollars, there has to be some major concerns for public safety. The judge weighs these risks against the accused's apparent ability to pay and the crime or crimes for which he/she is accused. For example, a drunk driver who has killed someone under the influence may be facing high bail because he/she could drink and get behind a wheel again, but the person accused of serial murder is even more dangerous because there is nothing preventing him/her from finding another victim.

The accused serial murder's bail is set even higher than the drunk driver's, despite the fact that the drunk driver could do the same crime again before the trial begins. The accused serial murder is considered more dangerous, and thus the elevated bail. Additionally, if either of these accused criminals has a sizable fortune and a passport, the judge assesses the "flight risk" for the possibility that the accused will flee the country on his/her wealth. Bail may be set even higher because of the risk, or bail may be remanded to keep the accused in a jail cell.

Extravagant Bail on the Poor

While it is possible for a judge to set a high bail amount, it does not happen all that often. Most of the time the judge will set bail within reason and within the parameters of the accused's ability to pay and/or the accused's resources (e.g., assets in holding, wealthy relatives to borrow from, value of home/property, etc.). When really extravagant bail is set with the hopes of keeping the accused in jail, you may be able to bargain for a percentage of that bail rather than the whole amount. It depends on the judge and the bail bondsperson who helps spring you.

When you are dirt poor, barely have two nickels to rub together and the only thing you can put up is your house and it does not cover bail, you may be able to ask for a reduced bail amount. Your lawyer and/or the bail bondsperson will have to provide a good argument, such as you are the only caretaker of sick and frail family members or you have no family alive who will spring you. The circumstances surrounding the charges against you and your flight risk are taken into consideration when asking for reduced bail.

For more information, talk to a professional like Bail Man Bail Bonds.