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Six Grounds for a Judge to Refuse Bail

If you or a loved one has been arrested, you may be wondering what comes next. One of the first things that will happen is a bail hearing, during which a judge will determine whether or not to grant bail. Bail is the amount the court requires the defendant to pay to be released from custody before trial. 

If you cannot pay the bail, you may be required to remain in jail until your trial.

At the bail hearing, the prosecutor will present evidence to the judge that they believe should keep the defendant in jail. This evidence may include the severity of the crime, whether or not the defendant is a flight risk, and whether or not the defendant is a danger to the community. The judge will then decide whether or not to grant bail.

If you have been arrested, it is important to contact a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights.

While there are many factors that a judge takes into account when deciding whether or not to grant bail, there are also several reasons why they might choose to deny bail altogether. Keep reading to learn about six reasons why a judge might deny bail.

The Nature of the Crime 

One of the most significant factors that a judge takes into account when determining whether or not to grant bail is the severity of the crime committed. If the crime is considered serious—such as murder, rape, or armed robbery—the chances of being granted bail are much lower. This is because judges see defendants charged with serious crimes as more of a flight risk, meaning they are more likely to try to flee the country before their trial to avoid facing justice.

For example, in the United States, federal law requires that bail be denied for anyone charged with a capital crime—that is, a crime punishable by death. This is because the punishment for such a crime is so severe that there is little incentive for the defendant to show up for their trial if they are granted bail.

Previous Arrests 

Another factor that can influence a judge’s decision is whether or not the defendant has been arrested in the past. If the defendant has a long history of criminal activity, the judge may deem them to be too much of a risk and deny bail. Likewise, if the defendant has previously been arrested for failing to appear in court, this may also work against them when it comes time to decide on bail. 

For example, in the case of United States v. Salerno, the defendant faced racketeering and conspiracy charges. The judge denied bail, deeming the defendant too much of a flight risk. The court found that the defendant had a history of criminal activity and had failed to appear in court on previous occasions. As such, the judge felt there was no guarantee that the defendant would show up for their trial if released on bail.

The Weight of Evidence Against Them 

In some cases, there may be overwhelming evidence against the defendant. This could include DNA evidence, video footage, or eyewitness testimony. If it seems clear that the defendant is guilty and there is little chance that they will be found innocent at trial, the judge may decide not to grant bail. 

For example, if the defendant is accused of a serious crime like murder, and there is video footage of them committing the act, the judge may feel that it is unlikely they will be found not guilty at trial. In this case, the judge may deny bail to prevent the defendant from fleeing or harming anyone else.

Their Ties To The Community 

One thing that judges often take into account when making their decision is how strong the defendant’s ties are to their community. If it seems like the defendant would have trouble making it back to court for their trial—for example, if they don’t have a fixed address or a steady job—the judge may decide not to grant bail. On the other hand, if the defendant has strong ties to their community—such as family members who can vouch for them or gainful employment—this may work in their favor and increase their chances of being granted bail. 

For example, if the defendant is a well-known community member with a good reputation, this may be considered. The judge may also consider the defendant’s criminal history—if they have a long history of violent crime, they may be less likely to be granted bail.

The Risk Of Fleeing 

As we mentioned before, one of the biggest concerns that judges have when deciding is whether or not the defendant presents a flight risk. Suppose it seems like there is a good chance that the defendant will try to flee before the trial begins. In that case, perhaps because they have assets outside of the country or no ties to their community—the judge may consider this when making their decision and ultimately deny bail. 

For example, in the 2016 case United States v. Gotti, bail was denied to John “Junior” Gotti—the son of infamous mob boss John Gotti—because the judge believed he was a flight risk. In their decision, the court noted that Gotti had access to assets outside the country and had previously attempted to flee the country while awaiting trial on racketeering charges.
As you can see, several factors go into a judge’s decision when it comes time to determine whether or not bail should be granted. While it ultimately comes down to each case, these are some of the most common reasons why judges might choose to deny bail altogether.

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