The Eight Amendment prohibits excessive bail in criminal proceedings. Bail is the amount of money a criminal defendant is required to pay in exchange for the release from jail pending trial. Bail is returned once the trial proceedings have concluded, but bail is forfeited to the State if the defendant fails to appear in court at trial or other court proceedings.
There are two main purposes for the use of bail. The main purpose is to ensure the defendant returns to court. The other purpose of bail is to promote the ideal of being innocent until proven guilty by a jury of one’s peers. There are numerous policy considerations that promote the continued use of bail. Bail helps reduce the population of defendant in custody pending trial. It also helps defendants to assist in their defense because it is much easier for the defendant and attorney to communicate about the case.
Because bail cannot be excessive, every county in California has a bail schedule that judges will rely on to determine the appropriate bail amount. There is no absolute right to bail, and a court can deny bail if a defendant is a flight risk or poses a considerable danger to the community. Further, a judge does not have to keep a person’s bail at the bail schedule. The judge has discretion to increase or decrease the amount of bail depending on the circumstances.
Bail is typically determined during a defendant's first appearance in court. A judge will normally set the bail amount and/or conditions of bail. At a bail hearing, a judge may either 1) set the bail amount and conditions; 2) release the defendant on his or her own recognizance; or, 3) deny bail.
If you are facing charges and wonder if you should bail out of jail, contact an experienced Fresno criminal and DUI attorney to discuss your options. You will receive a free lawyer consultation to determine the best defense for your case.