In the United States, the U.S. Constitution along with individual state constitutions, guarantees an accused the right to a “reasonable bond” when charged with a criminal offense except in the most extreme cases such as murder or treason. If you find yourself under arrest and facing criminal charges, however, you will likely want to know exactly what is a reasonable bond? Furthermore, how does a judge decide what amount to set bond at for a defendant?
The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, collectively known as the “Bill of Rights”, is where many of the rights a defendant has can be found. The 8th Amendment address bond and reads as follows:
“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
Section I-9 of the Nebraska Constitution effectively mirrors the 8th Amendment as well as adding some conditions to the right to bail in Nebraska, reading as follows:
“All persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for treason, sexual offenses involving penetration by force or against the will of the victim, and murder, where the proof is evident or the presumption great. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.”
When an individual is arrested an initial bail amount may already be set in the arrest warrant. If it is not, an initial bond amount will be set not long after arriving at the jail in most cases. Typically, bail is initially determined using the state or county bail schedule. A bail schedule simply looks at the level and seriousness of the most serious instant offense with which a person is charged and sets bail accordingly.
If the initial bond is set too high, your Nebraska criminal defense attorney may be able to request a hearing to review bond. At the hearing the judge will hear evidence and then consider lowering bail. When deciding on a bond amount a judge will typically consider the following three factors:
- The seriousness of the charges the defendant is facing
- The risk of flight if the defendant is released
- The risk to the community if the defendant is released
Along with evidence and testimony at the hearing a judge will usually also consider the defendant’s criminal history, or lack thereof, when making bail decisions. Not only will the judge look at previous convictions but a judge will pay particular attention to whether or not a defendant has ever failed to appear in court before on another charge. A pattern of failing to appear for court will not bode well at a bond review hearing.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Nebraska and need to have your bond reduced, or you are the loved one of someone currently being held on bond, contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss the case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.