How is Bail Determined in Criminal Cases in Utah?
The issue of bail will come up for nearly every criminal defendant. When a person is arrested and charged with a crime, they will be held in jail until their trial unless they are released on bail. Bail, sometimes referred to as pre-trial release, has historically required a cash payment from the defendant. The defendant is incentivized to show up for court because their money will be refunded if they do. However, bail has become a bit more complex in recent years, and courts do not always use cash bail. In any case, courts will consider multiple criteria when determining bail.
Bail is determined by looking at the severity of the defendant’s charges and their risk to the victim’s or public’s safety. Courts must also decide if the defendant is a flight risk who will likely not return to court if released on bail. Bail is not determined on a whim, and judges allow prosecutors and defendants to argue the issue in court. You and your lawyer must present evidence supporting no-cash or low-cost bail for your release at your bail hearing.
If you are charged with a crime in Utah, your bail hearing will be one of the earliest formal hearings in your case. It is important to have a skilled attorney on your side to secure your pre-trial release. Our Utah criminal defense lawyers can help. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 to set up a confidential legal consultation free of charge.
Determining Bail in Utah
Criminal defendants have a right to a bail hearing, but bail is not guaranteed. Courts will weigh numerous factors when determining bail. Bail primarily depends upon the severity of the defendant’s charges. More serious charges typically result in more expensive bail. Particularly serious or violent offenses could lead to very expensive bail, making it difficult or impossible for most defendants to secure pre-trial release without outside funding.
Other criteria include whether the defendant is a threat to the victim or public safety and whether the defendant is a flight risk. If a defendant is deemed too dangerous for release, they could be denied bail. Similarly, defendants who are high flight risks may be denied bail or be subject to more expensive bail to incentivize their return.
Courts can look to many different sources of information when determining bail, such as the defendant’s criminal history, any record of skipping bail, and testimony from victims or witnesses. You will need a skilled attorney to help you convince a court you should be released on bail. Our Ogden criminal defense lawyers will help you with your bail hearing.
Getting Released Without Cash Bail in Utah
Cash bail has historically been the only way a defendant could secure pre-trial release. The cash bail system requires that, when bail is set, the defendant must pay a particular sum of money to the court. If the defendant returns to court for their hearing, their money will be returned. However, defendants who fail to appear will forfeit their money.
The cash bail system has faced harsh criticism for being unfair for poor or cash-strapped defendants. A defendant who has not been found guilty must wait in jail because they cannot afford bail under cash bail. Many states have enacted bail reform laws that use non-cash bail systems, allowing defendants to be released without paying anything.
Utah enacted bail reform laws that allowed low-risk defendants to be released without paying any money, but they might be subject to other forms of monitoring, such as an electronic ankle monitor. However, those bail reform laws were recently repealed, and cash bail is now back on the table. Despite the repeal of Utah’s bail reform laws, many prosecutors and defense attorneys are still open to using non-cash bail, and it may still be a possibility in your case.
You could also be released without bail on your own recognizance. This form of pre-trial release is usually reserved for low-risk defendants charged with low-level, non-violent offenses. The court may find you trustworthy enough to return to court without any monitoring or cash payments. However, if you betray the court’s trust, your bail could be revoked, and you might have to wait in jail. Call our Murray criminal defense lawyers for help.
Can I Be Denied Bail in Utah?
Most defendants are granted bail. However, bail is denied for other defendants because they are too high-risk or because their charges are too severe. Under Utah Code of Criminal Procedure § 77-20-1, some offenses are denied bail by statute, leaving no room for the court’s discretion. For example, felonies committed while the defendant is on probation or parole are not granted bail. Similarly, any felony that involves domestic violence will be denied bail.
Bail could also be denied if the defendant is deemed too dangerous to be released or is highly likely to flee the state. Courts will look at the nature of your charges in addition to your history of violence when deciding if you are too dangerous for pre-trial release. A defendant who committed an especially serious felony, like murder or aggravated sexual assault, could be considered too dangerous for bail. If that defendant has a history of violence, the odds of being denied bail go up even more.
Determining whether someone is a flight risk can be very subjective. People with strong connections to the local community are considered lower flight risks because they have friends and family tying them to the jurisdiction. Someone is more likely to be perceived as a flight risk if they have a criminal record and a history of skipping bail. If you are afraid that you might be denied bail because of your past, call our Park City criminal defense attorneys to fight for you in court.
Call Our Utah Bail Defense Lawyers
Barring the exceptional circumstances mentioned above, you have a right to reasonable bail. Our Riverton criminal defense lawyers will advocate for the least restrictive bail so you can return home to your family as you await your trial. For help with your case, call our legal team at Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287. You can schedule a private legal consultation free of charge.