Can Bail Amounts Be Reduced?

Can Bail Amounts Be Reduced?

Bail is set to ensure that a criminal defendant returns for required court dates. A judge will consider many factors when determining the amount. Although bail can't be excessive, it is often higher than what a person can reasonably afford. Having a substantial bail amount that the defendant can't pay means that they must remain behind bars while their case is pending.

In situations where bail is extremely high, the defendant or their criminal defense attorney can request a bail reduction hearing, where they argue why the amount should be lowered. Still, even if the judge agrees with the defendant and reduces bail, it can be higher than what the defendant can pay.

If you need assistance with posting bail in Columbus or the surrounding areas, please call Andy Callif Bail Bonds at (614) 945-4334 or submit an online contact form today.

Considerations When Setting Bail

When bail is not established by a pre-determined bail schedule, it is set by a judge at a hearing.

According to Ohio Criminal Rule 46, the judge will decide on the amount based on:

  • The nature and circumstances of the alleged offense;
  • The evidence against the defendant;
  • The defendant's family ties, employment, character, financial resources, and criminal history; and
  • Whether the alleged offense was committed while the defendant was on some type of court control.

After considering these factors, the judge has the discretion to determine how much bail should be. Ohio's Criminal Rules provide that courts should impose the least restrictive measures to induce a defendant to return to court as required. Additionally, the U.S. and Ohio Constitutions prohibit courts from imposing excessive bail. Excessive bail is that which serves as a punishment and a means to keep the defendant locked up while awaiting trial.

Although these rules and laws exist, it's not uncommon to find judges setting bail in the thousands, tens of thousands, or millions of dollars. In some cases, these extremely high amounts are not considered to violate the defendants' rights because the judge provides written justification for the substantial bail.

Yet even though the court's decision is justified, the amount set might be too high for the defendant to afford. Thus, they cannot post the money to get pre-trial release from jail.

So, can the defendant get their bail reduced?

Requesting a Bond Reduction Hearing

When a judge sets a substantial bail amount, the defendant or their defense attorney can request a bond reduction hearing. The proceeding allows the defendant to present their arguments as to why the amount should be lowered.

The defendant may reiterate that they don't have a criminal record, have substantial ties to the community, and do not have the financial means to pay an extremely high bail, among other things. They may also state that the steep amount functions to keep the defendant in jail while they await trial even though they are not a flight risk or do not pose a danger to the public.

The court might agree with the defendant that the current bail amount is high. However, that doesn't mean it will lower the amount to something more affordable. The reduced bail might be set at a level that is still beyond the defendant's financial reach, provided that the judge can specify their reason for this.

Therefore, even if bail is reduced, it might not be something the defendant can easily pay. To illustrate this, take the recent monumental case of DuBose v. McGuffey. Initially, a judge set the defendant's bail at $1.5 million. The matter went all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court, which ruled that bail serves primarily to ensure the defendant's appearance in court, and factors such as the defendant's potential threat to society should not be considered when setting bail. The defendant's bail was reduced to $500,000. Although significantly less than $1.5 million, it's not accessible to most people.

Reach Out to an Experienced Bail Bonds Company

Those struggling to make bail – whether an initial or a reduced amount – can seek help securing pre-trial release from a bail bonds agency. For a non-refundable 10% premium, the company posts bail on the defendant's behalf, providing a more affordable option for getting out of jail.

For bail bond services in Columbus or the surrounding areas, please contact Andy Callif Bail Bonds at (614) 945-4334.


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