My brother got arrested and was charged with all misdemeanors in his case. The bail seems to be outrageously high. What constitutes reasonable bail? How can I get the bail reduced?
Bail should initially be composed of three factors: 1. The Defendant’s prior record of convictions and the seriousness of those prior convictions; 2. The seriousness of the instant case; and 3. The Defendant’s prior failures to appear in court (bench warrants).
Based on those factors bail is usually set to somewhat reasonable amount. Put yourself in the shoes of the person setting the bail and ask yourself what is the purpose of bail. Obviously, the purpose of bail is to ensure that you appear for your trial and the factors that are considered weigh whether you actual show up to court and what kind of time you are looking at in your case. In Philadelphia County, there are actual bail guidelines that instruct the bail commissioner on what bail is reasonable considering the above mentioned factors. However, those guidelines are simply that: guidance only.
After the bail is set, you can always appeal the bail to a Judge in the Court of Common Pleas to adjust it to a more appropriate number. In my practice, I wait until after the first preliminary hearing date to see if the complainant or the cops actually show up to Court so that I can argue a new fourth factor: a change in circumstance. When the initial authority set the bail, they assumed that the prosecution would continue until trial, but when witnesses fail to appear at a preliminary hearing, that makes the case less serious altering my third factor from above.
While bail is a serious matter to all, bail is not super complicated. I hope this answer helps.