The subject of bail is addressed by the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution, providing that “excessive bail shall not be required.” This, however, does not mean that it is absolutely guaranteed in every case, and if bail is granted it may be revoked based upon the actions of the defendant.
Reasons for Denial
One of the primary purposes of bail is to ensure the defendant shows up for the court proceedings initiated as a result of the alleged offense. If the judge has any reason to believe the accused poses a flight risk, bail will likely be denied. A history of not appearing for a scheduled court date by the defendant or some comments or a disrespectful attitude toward the court will be factors ion the judge’s decision. Other reasons bail may be denied include:
• The crime the individual is accused of is serious. A person facing many years of incarceration or the death penalty is often denied bail
• The person was already on probation or parole. Judges are often unsympathetic to someone who shows an inability to stay out of trouble.
• The person is not a US citizen. Other than the risk of flight to return to one’s native country, there may be an immigration hold on a non-citizen.
• The person poses a danger to the community if he or she remains free.
Reasons for Revocation
A guiding principle regarding bail is that the court has the inherent power to protect its processes and the community. In the initial determination of the defendant’s suitability for bail, the judge established terms and conditions. Violating any of these is sufficient cause to revoke bail. The most common mistakes made by those out on bail are missing a court date and being arrested for a subsequent offense. Additionally, any hint of attempts to influence or intimidate a potential witness in the pending case will be met with harshly.
Other conditions of bail the judge may impose based on the circumstances of the case and that must be adhered to may be:
• No contact with the alleged victim
• Refrain from the use of alcohol or illegal drug with possible regular testing
• Limitations on driving
• Regular reporting to a specified official
Additionally, the judge may reconsider the original bail order in light of new information or changed circumstances.
A defendant who has his or her bail revoked is entitled to a hearing on the matter. Depending on the nature of the violation, the time leading up to the hearing may be spent incarcerated or out of custody. The accused may be represented by counsel at the hearing where the prosecution will have a varying burden of proof based on the jurisdiction, either federal or state court, and again based on the specifics surrounding the violation.
In addition to facing bail revocation and jail time, it is common for the court to seek forfeiture of the entire bail bond amount once a defendant’s bail is revoked.