March 25th, 2014 by Attorney Dan Carman
Although they mean slightly different things, the words “bail” and “bond” are often used interchangeably in Kentucky courts. Both refer generally to money paid to release a defendant from custody while his or her case is pending.
If the Defendant complies with everything the Court asks while the case is pending (in large part, that means if he or she shows up to Court when required and stays out of trouble), then at the end of the case, the money is returned to the person who paid it. However, if while out of custody the Defendant violates the conditions of the bond set by the judge, the money can be forfeited (taken by the Court) after a bond forfeiture hearing.
A judge considers several factors when determining the amount of a defendant’s bail. Under KRS 431.525, the bail amount shall be:
- Sufficient to insure compliance with the conditions of release set by the court;
- Not oppressive;
- Commensurate (corresponding) with the nature of the offense charged;
- Considerate of the past criminal acts and the reasonably anticipated conduct of the defendant if released; and
- Considerate of the financial ability of the defendant.
In reality, many factors can affect the amount of the bail, including but not limited to the defendant’s criminal history, the defendant’s history (if any) of failing to appear for court, and the defendant’s age and family situation.
Additionally, the judge has discretion to increase the bail amount or alter conditions of the bond in other ways. With a proper explanation in the order, the judge could even refuse to release the defendant from jail.
The bail may be reviewed at every stage of a criminal proceeding. For example, if a judge refuses to lower it at the arraignment, it could still be lowered later at the preliminary hearing. It is important to remember, however, that in many cases, a judge will not review and lower a person’s bail unless some of that person’s information, such as the address where he or she resides, has been verified by 3rd parties through the Court’s Pretrial Services office.
An experienced criminal defense attorney will be most able to present your best arguments for a reduced bail amount or a change in other conditions of the bond.
If you (or a loved one) have been arrested and face a high bail amount in Kentucky or the Lexington area in particular, call my office at (859) 685-1055 for a free consultation.