Should I use the posted bail schedule or wait for a judge to set bail?

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Are there times when I may be better off waiting for a judge to set bail, rather than using the posted bail schedule?


Bail schedules treat all suspects alike. But suspects with no previous arrests and strong ties to the community (for example, a job and family) may convince a judge to set much lower bail than the bail schedule provides—or even to grant own recognizance release.  In this situation, by remaining in jail a day or two before appearing in court, a suspect might save a considerable amount of money. For example, if the bail schedule fixes bail at $10,000, a bond will cost $1,000 in a non­refundable fee. If a day later the judge fixes bail at $1,000, the bond would then cost only $100. This means that by waiting for the judge to act, the defendant (or the defendant’s family or friends) would save $900.

Of course, each individual suspect, and the suspect’s family and friends, will have to weigh the opportunity to save money by asking the judge to lower the bail against the hardship of remaining in jail longer than is absolutely necessary.

This answer was excerpted from The Criminal Law Handbook, by Paul Bergman, J.D., and Sara J. Berman, J.D.

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