How the Court determines Bail

June 16th, 2022

How the Court determines Bail

How the court determines bail is perhaps the first question family members ask. There are three primary ways a court sets bail. You can be issued a summons, charged with a crime with bail set by schedule, or go before the judge for a bail hearing. 

What happens when I am issued a summons?

The legal system gives some leeway to officers when arresting people for misdemeanor offenses. Clients come to me after an officer has issued a summons to appear on matters ranging from misdemeanor theft to traffic infractions, and they do not realize that summons is the same as an arrest. The court appearance is mandatory, and the result can impact their record. 

Do I always have to go before the judge to have bail set?

No. Louisiana law allows some crimes bail set by schedule. The district court sets the bail schedule. When this happens, the court order must fix the amount of bail for each listed offense, designate the officers authorized to accept the bail and order the bail be taken in conformity with the schedule. Being arrested for a crime with a preset or scheduled bail will expedite the process tremendously. It prevents the need to appear before the judge and have the amount fixed.

How does the court determine the amount?

When charged with an offense that requires the judge to assign a bail amount, or if you want the amount lowered, the court considers factors to determine how much bail should be. The factors are:

The weight of the evidence against the defendant; 

The seriousness of the offense charged, including but not limited to whether the offense is a crime of violence or involves a controlled dangerous substance;

The previous criminal record of the defendant;

The ability of the defendant to give bail;

The nature and seriousness of the danger to any other person or the community that the defendant’s release would pose;

The defendant’s voluntary participation in a pretrial drug program;

the absence or presence in the defendant of any controlled dangerous substance;

Whether the defendant is currently out on a bail undertaking on a previous felony arrest for which he is awaiting trial or sentencing;

Any other circumstances affecting the probability of the defendant’s appearance;

The type of bail

The purpose of the factors is to balance an amount of money that will ensure the individual will appear in court with the safety of the individual affected by the crime or the community. 

Clients can become frustrated with the process when hired to reduce their bail. It is not immediate. Depending on the parish, it can take up to two weeks, sometimes more. Before arguing the reduction, I need my client’s police reports and some social history. You only get one chance to argue the motion to reduce a bail bond, so we have to present a solid argument to maximize the amount reduced. 

If you or someone you know is arrested and has a question about bail bonds or needs to have bail set and wants to discuss the process, do not hesitate to contact the law office of Larrion L. Hillman at 318-549-9810. Larrion Hillman is a criminal defense attorney in Caddo Parish, Bossier Parish, Shreveport, and Bossier City, Louisiana. Remember, keep calm and let Hillman handle it

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