What Are The Factors That A Judge Looks At When Determining Bail Amount?
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. Robertson, 455 P.2d 570 (Kan. 1969).
This case addresses the following issue:
What are the factors that a judge looks at when determining bail amount?
This case explored the topic of what factors a judge looks at when her or she is determining he bail amount for a particular defendant. In exploring this topic, the court concluded that the judge should be guided by consideration of the nature of the offense. Id. at 572. Additionally, the judge may consider the propensity of the defendant for the crime as indicated by previous convictions and the judge must consider the probability of escape. Id.
The defendant appealed from a conviction, judgment and sentence in the district court for robbery in the first degree. Id. at 571. The defendant was sentenced as a repeat offender for a period of no less than thirty years. Id. Furthermore, the defendant had three prior felony convictions in the same county in which he was found guilty for the first degree robbery. Id.
The defendant argued that the bail required by the district court was unjustified and excessive. Id. The amount of bail was fixed by the presiding judge at $25,000. Id. In addition, no proceedings to obtain a reduction of bail appeared in the record. Id. However, the record did show that the defendant had committed three previous felonies. Id.
In order to address this argument, the court examined the factors necessary to determine a bail amount. Id. The court determined that the amount of bail rested in the sound discretion of the presiding judge. Id. at 572. Also, the court noted that the purpose of bail was to insure the presence of the prisoner at a future hearing. Id. Furthermore, according to the court, fixing the amount of bail by a presiding judge should be guided by a consideration of the nature of the offense as shown by the proof thereof. Id. Moreover, a presiding judge may consider the fondness and propensity of the defendant for crime as indicated by his or her previous convictions. Id. Also, a presiding judge must consider the probability of the defendant escaping. Id.
The court held that no hard and fast rule could be laid down for fixing the amount of bail on a criminal charge. Id. Each case must be governed by its own facts and circumstances, and a court that is reviewing a lower court’s decision should not interfere with the decision of the presiding judge except where a clear abuse of authority by the presiding judge was shown to deny the defendant of his or her due process of law and affect his or her substantial rights. Id.
After considering all of these factors, the court determined that there was no clear abuse of authority by the presiding judge and the $25,000 required bail amount was not unjustified or excessive. Id.