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What are the purposes of bail and why is my bail so high?

Many people have often asked me why is my bail so high and how do I go about posting my bail once it has been set? I think that in order to truly understand why your bail was set where it was we must first understand what the purpose is. There are two reasons for the court to set a bail on someone. First, to ensure that the person accused of the crime shows up to court and does not “go on the run”. The reasoning behind this idea is that a person will show up to court each and every time if the court is holding your money for ransom. The only way that you will receive a portion of your money back is if you show up to every court date.  The second reason for bail to be set is to ensure the safety of the community. If you are charged with a very violent or serious crime, the court can may decide that you are a danger to the community and can give you a very high bail in the hopes that you will be unable to pay it and will have to wait in jail until the outcome of your case.

While these are the two main reasons for someone to have bail there are many other factors that can play into setting a person’s bail. The criminal history of the person will be a major factor. At times there are certain crimes that may be getting a lot of media attention and judges want to be seen as being tough on these crimes. For example, Philadelphia was having a very public outcry to get illegal guns off of their streets, so the district attorney decided to ask for really high bails for anyone who was charged with carrying an illegal gun in the city. The hope was that people would see this and be deterred from carrying them on the streets of Philadelphia. While this tactic is not supposed to be used because it essentially punishes a person for a crime before they have been convicted of any crime. It is a very common practice to give someone high bail on a “hot button crime”.

Another common way to have unreasonably high bail is if a person is rude or has a nasty attitude to the magisterial judge during their preliminary arraignment. Many people do not understand the process and the first time that you will see someone is at your preliminary arraignment. (If you do not know what a preliminary arraignment is please read the previous blog for clarity). Often times people try to explain why they have not done whatever they may be accused of doing. That is not the time to plead your case to the judge and often times people get upset because they feel the magisterial judge is not listening to them. They get into screaming matches with the judges and the next thing you know, your bail is set at a very high price. If you find yourself about to go into a preliminary arraignment or about to have your bail set, please do not do it alone. Contact us at LHS Law Firm and let us fight for your rights and help you fight your case from the streets and not from behind bars.