Interviewer: Take me through the scenario first if you’re not arrested, where you’re given the summons, and you have to show up in court. Does that court date have a specific name and what will happen there?
Your First Court Appearance Is the Arraignment
Stuart Austin: At the first court date it’s usually an arraignment. What that means is that the court is going to decide whether or not to set bail and, if so, in what amount. What that means, for the most part, is that you’ve now appeared for court.
The Judge Will Decide Whether or Not to Impose Bail
You appeared on your own, and it is less likely that a judge is going to impose some form of bail on you, but he could, and then to decide what that amount would be, whether that amount is $100 or $1 million.
The Nature of the Charge against You Determine the Bail Amount Imposed by the Judge
What the judge will take into account when setting that bail or deciding whether to set that bail is the nature of the charge. Whether it’s a violent charge or a non-violent charge are factors that the judge considers when deciding if bail should be set.
Is the Character of the Individual Being Charged a Factor in Bail Being Imposed?
Interviewer: How about the character of the person who is being charged? What if he is a middle-aged man with a family and children as opposed to an 18-year-old without a family or without ties to the community? Does that make a difference in the bail?
Ties to the Community
Stuart Austin: The judge does take into account the status of the individual being charged, which they call the ties to the community. Someone who has ties to the community owns a house, has a family, has a job here, and is less likely to disappear.
The Judge Will Consider If You Are a Flight Risk When Setting Bail
Remember, the courts are interested in two things when they’re setting bail. One is how likely you are to come back for your next court appearance and the second is how likely are you to offend again. If the judge believes that either of those two things is likely to occur, then they’re not going to let you out in the community.
This is because one, either you’re not going to come back, or two because you’re going to now get rearrested and hurt somebody else or damage property. Those are the two issues, so family ties and ties to the community are very important to show that you are going to come back and that you do have the reasons to come back.