Can You Request that a Judge Reduces Bail?

Posted on by New Mexico Criminal Law Offices

Criminal Defense Lawyers Helping Reduce Bail in New Mexico

bail amountA bail amount that is too high means you might stay in jail until your trial – which could mean weeks, months, or even over a year before you see freedom.

While it might seem as though you have no options once bail is set, the law has protections for criminal defendants. Furthermore, your attorney can propose a lower amount by presenting evidence to the judge.

What is Bail and Why Do Albuquerque Courts Use It?

Bail is a mechanism used in the criminal justice system to ensure that if the courts release you, you will return for your hearing. Your bond is typically set based on three factors:

  • The severity of the crime,
  • Whether you pose a flight risk, and
  • Whether or not you pose a threat to the community if you were released.

How Does a Judge Set Bail Amounts?

A judge sets the bail amount in a criminal case.

Most local jails have a standard bail schedule for common offenses – offenses that are not a high-risk to the community’s safety. Paying the scheduled amount might release you quickly from jail. However, when your crime is more severe, the judge must set the bail amount. Also, if you cannot afford the scheduled amount, you may request a hearing to reduce it.

Regardless, most judges use an algorithm for setting the bail amount. These systems develop a score, and the score indicates a proper bail range that guides judges.

Protections Against Excessive Bail

The U.S. Constitution has protections in place for criminal defendants. Under the Eighth Amendment, the Constitution prohibits the court from issuing “excessive bail.” However, the term is not defined in the Constitution – so what is considered excessive?

If the issuing judge can show they have a compelling reason to issue such a high bail amount, the courts will strike down any request for lower bail.

Options for Paying Bail

You do not have to drain your savings account to pay bail, but it is the most popular option for paying your bail amount. Other options you have include:

  • Presenting cash or a check for the entire bail amount.
  • Signing over property that meets the bail value.
  • Using a bail bondsman to get a bail bond, which guarantees payment in the event the defendant jumps bail.
  • A waiver of bail payment, or being released on your own recognizance by the court.

Bonds cost 10 percent of the total bail. While they sound like a great way to pay bail, they are costlier than defendants realize. You will face administrative fees, must place collateral on the bond, and if the defendant does not show up in court on their court date, you lose any bond and collateral you have set.

How to Convince a Judge to Reduce Bail Amounts

The law, judge, and procedures of that county court all play a factor in how your bail is determined. However, universally there are three common ways you can convince a judge to reduce your bail amount or release you on your own recognizance.

You are Not a Danger to the Community

Bail increases if you are high risk to the community. People accused of violent crimes may have extremely high bail amounts – or be denied the option of bail entirely. For example, homicide, manslaughter, or weapon crimes could see high bail values or no bail allowed.

When your crime is minor, and it involves no physical or emotional injury to the public, you can better convince a judge that you are not a danger to society. For example, theft crimes that involve no weapons or injuries.

Your criminal defense attorney would argue that you are not a threat, but also present some evidence – such as highlighting your character.

You Have No Previous Criminal Records

Your attorney will use your past criminal history to decrease your bail amount. This is especially helpful if you have no criminal record. First-time offenders are more likely to receive lower bail than a defendant with multiple offenses or convictions on his or her criminal record.

If you do have a criminal record, you can still receive a reduced bail amount. In this instance, your attorney would argue that you have attended all hearings, court dates, and paid bail in the past for those offenses – proving your reliability.

You Have Strong Ties to the Community

Judges issue higher bail amounts for those they fear would flee before their trial date. Your ties to the community tend to decrease your flight risk in the eyes of a judge. If you have family or full-time employment, that may convince a judge that your relationships are strong enough to keep you here.

Having those ties appear at your bail hearing might help – such as an employer and family members in the courtroom ready to testify to your dependability.

Agreeing to More Conditions

Sometimes, judges are willing to decrease bail amounts if the defendant agrees to further conditions for their release, such as attending counseling, checking in with the courts, or submitting to drug tests. The more willing you are to comply with these conditions for release, the more likely the judge is to reduce bail.

Can I Be Released O.R.?

Being released on O.R. or own recognizance means the court is not requiring you to pay a monetary bail amount. While you might not pay bail, you will receive a list of conditions you must adhere to while out on O.R. Violate even one term or pre-trial release, and you could go back to jail until your trial – and pay fines.

If the judge initially issues a bail amount, you might still receive an O.R. release if you have an attorney arguing for one. The same factors that convince a judge to lower bail may persuade them to release you O.R.

Increase the Chances of Better Bail – Call a New Mexico Defense Attorney

Avoid having a bail hearing that does not go in your favor. To avoid having an outrageous bail amount, you need a defense lawyer there by your side arguing for lesser bail – or no bail.

A defense attorney from New Mexico Criminal Law Offices can help. We understand what is required to convince a judge to reduce bail, and we can present an argument during the initial bail hearing so that you can receive a fair, affordable bail amount.

Schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation with a criminal defense lawyer in New Mexico today by calling 505-375-4664 or ask our team a question online.