The fundamental purpose of bail is to ensure the defendant’s appearance in court. In making a monetary determination, the judge considers factors such as:
- Whether the defendant is a flight risk
- Whether the defendant is a danger to society
- The defendant’s ties to the community
- The defendant’s ability and likelihood to flee the jurisdiction
- The defendant’s criminal history, including warrant history
- The nature of the charge(s)
In certain cases, an arrestee may bail out of jail in Minnesota pending subsequent court action, as opposed to remaining in custody until then. Those cases in which bail is usually denied involve serious or violent felonies or if the arrestee is an habitual offender.
Federal Bail Guidelines For Criminal Cases
Federal cases are subject to the Bail Reform Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 3141–3156. In federal cases, the court has four alternatives with respect to bail:
- Releasing the defendant on his/her own recognizance
- Releasing the defendant with certain, specific conditions
- Temporarily detaining the defendant pending existing bail revocation
- Detaining the defendant
In the last situation, the government must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that there are no feasible conditions that can be imposed on the defendant that would ensure his/her appearance in subsequent court proceedings. Therefore, for defendants who may pose a flight risk, or those whose offenses were violent and/or serious, bail is usually not granted.
State Bail Guidelines for Criminal Cases
Minnesota Statutes Sections 629.15-629.18 provide bail guidelines for state criminal cases. For misdemeanors, bail is rarely imposed; however, the court may set certain conditions of release until the defendant’s reappearance in court. Gross misdemeanors and felonies typically have bail attached at the prosecutor’s and/or judge’s discretion. Some charges, such as first-degree homicide, are not eligible for bail whatsoever.
Bail is either unconditional or conditional. Whereas unconditional bail is bail with no conditions attached—except, of course, that the defendant return to court for his/her hearing(s) and not commit additional offenses. Failure to adhere to these stipulations usually results in bail forfeiture, re-arrest, and the potential for increased bail.
Conversely, conditional bail has certain conditions imposed to ensure the defendant’s subsequent court appearance. Among the most common conditions are:
- Random alcohol and/or drug testing
- No possession or use of alcohol and/or drugs
- Staying away from places that serve alcohol
- Staying away from a particular place or person(s) (e.g. a restraining order)
- Not leaving the state of Minnesota
The judge may also impose specific conditions unique to a particular case. Further, a judge can revoke bail at any time.
Each county and prosecutor have their own guidelines for imposing bail on defendants. Some routinely ask for conditional bail, regardless of the facts of the case; however, others make a case-by-case determination.
Pursuant to Minnesota Statute Section 169A.44, Subd. 1, defendants charged with a gross misdemeanor DWI are usually subjected to $12,000 bail and, in some cases, defendants must be on an alcohol monitor.
Posting Bail in Minnesota
For defendants who are granted bail, there are two options to post it: by paying the court the full amount of the bail or using a bail bondsman. In the latter, the person posting the bail pays the bondsman ten percent of the bail amount and signs collateral over to the bail bond company in case the defendant absconds while out on bail. The ten percent is the bond company’s commission for assuming responsibility that the defendant will appear in court.
Using the services of a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney is critical to ensure that the defendant receives the best bail options for his/her unique case. Top notch attorneys can negotiate for a lower bail amount or reduce/remove certain conditions. For more information about the bail process, or if you or a loved one is facing bail denial or unfair conditions, please contact us.
Disclaimer: The content of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact Jennifer Speas to discuss the specifics of your case.