How Does a Past Criminal Record Affect Getting Bail?

February 9, 2022

Courts typically set a bail amount that the defendant pays to be released from custody while waiting for a trial. A past criminal record is one of the factors that the court uses to determine a bail amount. 

A judge’s bail setting options are thin- they can stick with the standard bail, increase or reduce it, cancel it, deny it, or release a suspect on OR (own recognizance). With technology, some states are on their way to adopting bail algorithms which will be essential in determining bail amounts using artificial intelligence. 

Bail algorithms work hand in hand with the crime database, where you can look up the jail record of suspects to determine a bail amount using particular patterns and presets such as criminal record history. Here are ways in which a past criminal record might influence your bail.

1. Outstanding Warrant

A warrant becomes outstanding when the individual required by the warrant is deliberately avoiding police officers. Evading an outstanding warrant will likely create more charges on top of the already existing one. Further, the bail determination for the new charges will rely on the defendant’s already tainted record, which means that they may be wholly denied bail, or the bail can be excessive.

In other situations, the judge will most likely refuse to allow bail for a defendant with an outstanding warrant in a different jurisdiction to keep them in police custody. The court will deny the defendant bail because the defendant shall have shown that they can escape to another jurisdiction if they are set free on bail.

2. Repeated Offense

If a defendant is released and goes back to the community to commit a similar crime, it won’t be easy for them to get bail. The judge may deny them bail or increase their bail significantly depending on the severity of the crime they committed. At this point, they shall have then proven to the court that they are detrimental to be in social settings if set free on bail.

3. Substantial Criminal Record

The judge will issue a high bail amount to an offender with a substantial criminal record. The nature involved in the current and past offense will heavily weigh in on the judge’s decision regarding the bail. 

Assuming that it’s a criminal offense such as the use of narcotics or violence, the defendant will most probably not get bail. 

4. Previous Contempt Of Court

Contempt of court refers to disobedience or disrespect towards orders issued by a court, for example, when a defendant fails to attend scheduled court dates. In situations where one keeps disrespecting a court of law with no grounds to defend their actions, records are kept. These records significantly affect any future court cases that an individual might face.

As such, if a defendant has a habit of missing court hearings, the courts will generally set them a higher bail because of their previous bad record of disrespecting bail conditions. In some instances, they will be denied bail altogether.

5. Potential Flight Risk

Offenders who are deemed a potential flight risk by the courts could escape from the authority before their cases are acquitted, especially those on the run from justice. The judge will set them very high bails or cancel their bails altogether. 

6. Ties To Community and Family

Suppose a defendant happens to have a past criminal record but did not try to have a good relationship with the community after their first conviction. 

In other instances, an offender with a past criminal record but no address or family will not be released on bail. The courts will not give the offender bail because they have adequate reason to believe that they might be a flight risk as they have nothing to lose.

7. Concurrent Ongoing Cases

A defendant might be handling more than one case at the same time. Since they are already in for a first case, they will be denied bail for the second one.

8. Crime On Parole

When a defendant is released permanently or temporarily from prison before they fully serve their sentence, they usually only give their word to the court to maintain good behavior when set free. However, if they commit any crime when on parole, they shall have breached their agreement with the court of law and cannot be considered for bail whatsoever.

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