After someone is arrested, they are booked and held until bail is set. For less serious crimes, suspects may post bail immediately after being booked. Often there is a waiting period (typically less than 48 hours) and a bail hearing, in which a judge determines the eligibility and cost of bail.
In addition to the severity of the crime, a judge will consider the defendant’s criminal background, if the individual is a danger to others, and their ties to the community. The factors involved in judge discretion include:
- The nature and circumstances of the crime
- Evidence presented
- Defendant’s behavior; including past history in court, employment status, family dynamic, health issues, and financial stability.
- Safety to the public
- Probability of appearing in court or “flight risk”
Many jurisdictions have bail schedules that recommend standard bail amounts for common types and levels of crimes. Bail is set higher for more serious or dangerous crimes. Some areas use technology and algorithms to decide or provide input on bail amounts. And depending on the severity of the crime or background of the defendant, a judge may deny bail altogether. When bail is set, the defendant arranges to pay bail and is released by the court.