The decision process for setting jail bonds | Public Safety

The process for setting jail bonds is complicated. There are many instances in Buchanan County where two people are charged with similar crimes but have different bond amounts. The decision isn’t black and white and ultimately comes down to a judge’s discretion.

“No one’s life is the same,” said 5th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Keith Marquart. “No one’s circumstances are the same. Although a lot of people would think that everyone should be treated the same, not everyone is the same. Everyone is treated differently, and every case is treated differently, because they are different.”

Each decision depends on a variety of factors based on a Supreme Court rule.

“Whether the person was on probation and parole, or whether they were out on bond at the time, or whether they had a warrant for their arrest on another charge at the time,” Marquart said. “There are a lot of factors. But these decisions aren’t made just based upon how the judge feels that day. They’re based upon actual factors.”

These factors even include circumstances unrelated to charges, such as family ties, residence, community court and their previous record. The court also looks at the offense itself.

“The court has to look at the nature of the offense and the severity of the offense,” Marquart said. “Court has to look at their education level and their employment. There are many factors. But after the court considers all of those factors, it’s pretty much in the court’s discretion.”

A judge can give a variety of bonds: cash bonds, bonds through bail bonding companies, deposit bonds, property bonds, personal recognizance bonds or a combination.

Cash bonds have to be paid in the full amount. Deposit bonds require defendants to pay a certain percentage, typically 10%, to be released from jail. This bond can occur through a bail bonding company, as well, if the judge allows it. Property bonds are rare and use a lien against the defendant’s property to post bail.

If a defendant posts bail, that money is put into an account and returned to the defendant after the case, minus any court costs or fees that need to be paid.

A personal recognizance bond means the defendant is released from jail on no bond with the promise that they will return for their next court date. This bond must be considered for every case.

But the whole point of bonds is to make sure people have the right to post bail.

“People are presumed to be innocent, and they have the right to be free. What we’re trying to do is avoid people pleading guilty just because they’re in jail. And just because they feel their situation is hopeless. So anybody who is charged with an offense, unless the court finds that they’re a danger to the victim or to the community, is entitled to have a bond set,” Marquart said.

The courts are supposed to find if someone is guilty or not. And bonds are a necessary part of that process.

“A police officer says that a person committed an offense doesn’t mean that they’re guilty, or just because a victim called the police and said this person committed this offense doesn’t mean that they’re guilty,” Marquart said. “Each case must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, before a person can be found guilty, or the person needs to plead guilty.

“But even if a person pleads guilty, the court is still required to determine that they are guilty, because there are people who will plead guilty, just because the plea agreement calls for them to get out of jail. So we need to make sure that they’re not pleading guilty to get out of jail, but they’re pleading guilty because they are guilty.”

Bonds are complicated but that’s on purpose. It allows judges to set bond amounts depending on different life circumstances, offenses and factors.

Read More: The decision process for setting jail bonds | Public Safety

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Get more stuff like this
in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.