In the American judicial system, a major determinant of whether or not a defendant is granted bail, and how high that bail is, is whether or not they are considered a flight risk. But how does a judge determine their level of risk?
Basically, the judge will weigh a combination of factors that suggest either that a defendant is likely or unlikely to return to court and face trial if they are granted bail. Proving that you are not a flight risk is one of the most important keys to being released while your case is pending, which should be the immediate goal of any defendant.
Bail is based on the presumption of innocence, meaning that a person who is presumed innocent should be allowed any possible chance to be released on bail until their court date because it would be unfair to keep someone in jail without being certain of their guilt. However, if your crime is of a severe nature, you are considered a threat to the community, or if you are considered a flight risk, you’ll be denied bail.
Nature of the Crime and Strength of Evidence
Even if you are not considered a flight risk, it is possible that the nature of the crime will preclude you from being granted a release. Crimes for which the penalty is death or life imprisonment, drug offenses with penalties of longer than 10 years in prison, or crimes of violence (such as sexual assault) will almost never be granted bail. Basically, the more violent the crime, the more likely the defendant will be considered a threat of violence against either the community, the original victim, witnesses, or anyone involved, especially if the evidence against you is very strong. If the crime of which you are accused is not considered violent, and you are not considered a threat to the community, you may still be denied bail or have a very high bail set if you are considered a flight risk.
Factors that Determine Flight Risks:
- Family or community ties—If you have either family in the area, especially dependents, or ties to community organizations such as volunteer programs, religious organizations, or activity-oriented groups, you are considered unlikely to abandon those ties
- Employment—If you can demonstrate that you have a full-time job, especially one that is meaningful to you, you are considered unlikely to abandon your job
- Previous record of appearing in court—This demonstrates that you have shown up before in court, and are more likely to do so in the future
- Previous record of flight—If you have previously fled or not appeared for court, you are considered likely to flee again
- Financial resources—If you have significant financial resources and few community ties, your flight risk is considered high because it could theoretically be easy for you to flee the country and finance a new life
For more advice on bail and the bail bond system, keep an eye on our blog at All City Bail Bonds!