HOW IS THE BAIL AMOUNT DETERMINED?
Sometimes the black letter law passed by the legislature is unclear. The legislature can’t anticipate every possible fact scenario when they pass a law, so it lay to the courts to interpret the law and give guidance to what it means. This interpretation is called case law. When the court decides a certain meeting to the law it essentially answers a legal question. Lawyers and other courts then can rely on that ruling when they have a similar issue in their case. The following case answers the question above.
State v. Foy, 582 P.2d 281 (Kan. 1978).
This case addresses the following issue:
How is a bail amount determined?
This case explored the question of how the defendant’s bail amount was determined. In exploring this issue, the court concluded that, generally, no hard and fast rule could be laid down for fixing the amount of bail on a criminal charge, each case must be governed by its own facts and circumstances, and the amount of bail rested within sound authority of the presiding judge. Id. at 286.
This case was an appeal from a jury verdict which found the defendant guilty of murdering his wife. Id. at 284. The defendant and his wife were married in 1966 and their marriage was characterized by frequent periods of dispute and violence. Id. The defendant contributed most of his marital problems to his mother-in-law. Id. In January 1976, the wife went out drinking with some of her friends on New Year’s Day. Id. After failing to come home, the defendant went out looking for her and began slapping and kicking her once he found her. Id. Consequently, the wife signed a complaint charging the defendant with battery. Id. Upon being served the summons for the battery charge, the defendant began to drink heavily. Id. After an afternoon full of drinking, he grabbed a sawed-off shotgun and decided to walk to the mother-in-law’s house to look for his wife with the intention to kill the mother-in-law if she interfered. Id. at 285. After arriving at the house, the defendant stormed in the door and as the mother-in-law stood up out of her chair to call the police, the defendant angrily squeezed down on the trigger and shot and killed his wife. Id. After shooting his wife, the defendant fled the scene and was eventually apprehended by police. Id. The trial court sentenced the defendant to two life sentences. Id.
The defendant argued that the trial court erred in requiring excessive bail and in denying his motion for reduction of bond. Id. at 286. The defendant’s bond was initially set at $100,000 but was raised to $250,000 at his first appearance before the trial court. Id.
In addressing the defendant’s argument, the court determined that no hard and fast rule could be laid down for fixing the amount of bail on a criminal charge, and each case must be governed by its own facts and circumstances. Id. Furthermore, the court noted that the amount of bail rested within the sound authority of the presiding judge. Id. Additionally, the court stated that the purpose of the statutes requiring bond from persons accused of crimes was to assure their presence at the time and place of the trial. Id.
In the defendant’s case, the court ruled that the evidence presented at the preliminary hearing revealed that the defendant admittedly shot his wife, left the city immediately after the time crime, and had few friends and relatives in the town. Id. Moreover, no abuse in the exercise of the trial court’s power of authority had been shown. Id.