Shortly after an arrest and booking, a defendant will appear before a judge who will review the charges and remind the defendant of his or her rights. The judge will also assign an attorney if the defendant does not already have one and ask for a plea of guilty or not guilty.
During this hearing or another one, the judge will also consider the option to grant bail as well as the amount. There are various factors that the judge examines before making a bail decision.
Regarding bail, the State of California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General states that safety is the primary consideration. The judge or magistrate contemplates if the release of the defendant will potentially bring harm to the public or victims.
The judge will look at the offense charged and its severity as well as the criminal history of the defendant. The judge also considers the risk of the defendant running and not showing up for future hearings or the trial. Generally, there is a lower risk if the defendant has a solid employment history and ties to the community.
Defendant’s ability to pay
In addition to the previous considerations, KCRA 3 reports that in a recent California Supreme Court ruling, the court voted unanimously in making the ability to pay another factor. In the past, if the bail was unaffordable, the defendant had to stay behind the bars, which resulted in people with money having a better chance of getting out on bail.
The new ruling states that the other considerations, especially safety, are still the priority. However, a defendant should not face additional punishment if the bail is too high. Along with the judge, the victim has a chance to give an opinion on the potential lowering of the bail amount.