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

Sometimes the defense can convince a judge to set bail below the amount specified in the bail schedule.

Question

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

Answer

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 be able to get much lower bail than the bail schedule provides—or even 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 might 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. As with so many decisions, it's best to consult with an experienced attorney.

For much more on this topic, see How Judges Set Bail.

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