In many cases, a bond will start out unreasonably high. However, as a case progresses, the judge will usually lower the bond to something more manageable (like $25,000 or $50,000) based on a list of criteria. For example, the judge will probably look at whether or not the defendant has a history of violence. If he or she does not, the judge is more likely to lower the bond, as the defendant would be unlikely to harm others if he or she were able to post bond and leave jail.
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“It’s not uncommon for these drug cases to start with bonds of $150,000 , $250,000 and get those reduced down in the $20,000 $25,000 range. The initial bonds are set on a schedule, and they’re designed so that anyone who truly is a big time drug dealer is not going to just quickly post his bond at a low rate, and then get out of town and never come back. So they set them very high to start with.
When you get to court, there’s a number of criteria the judge is supposed to look at — their previous history, their ties to the community, the fact that they’ve never failed to appear in court before, that their history is not one of violence, they’re not likely to go out and harm anybody in the community, they’re not likely to threaten a witness. You have all of those things brought before the court.
Then the judge uses his experience to say, “Okay. Well in that case, maybe a half million dollars is too high. Maybe $25,000 or $50,000 is more appropriate.” For a $50,000 bond, the family needs $5,000 and a bondsman. That’s usually doable.”