If you’re arrested for a crime, a judge will typically assign a bond that will allow you to get out of jail. Bonds come in many different shapes and sizes, but their purpose is always the same—a bond is intended to ensure that you show up for your next court date.
If you appear in court like you’re supposed to, you stand a chance of getting your bond money back at the end of the case. Skip your hearing, and the court will issue and arrest warrant and keep your bond money.
Bail Bonds Must Be Reasonable
The Supreme Court of Indiana has said that bonds must be reasonable. If a bond amount is outrageously high, it’s likely overstepping its intended purpose of ensuring court attendance. That bond is probably unreasonable and should be lowered.
Sometimes a seemingly unreasonable bond can be justified in the name of safety. That is, a person is arrested and assigned a very high bond amount to “assure the physical safety of another person or the community.”
Bond Review: A Doubled-Edged Sword
In Indiana, you’re entitled to ask for a bond review, but there’s no guarantee this will work in your favor. Some people might think, It can’t hurt to ask, right? Actually, sometimes it can. When you ask the judge to review your bond, there’s nothing in the rules that prevents them from deciding your bond amount should be increased.
Here are some of the factors a judge will consider when setting or reviewing bond:
- the length and character your residence in the community
- your employment status/history and ability to pay bail
- your family ties and relationships
- your character, reputation, habits, and mental condition
- your criminal or juvenile record, insofar as it demonstrates instability and a disdain for the court’s authority to bring you to trial
The last factor needs some clarification. It does not mean that someone with a criminal record will always be assigned a very high bond. What it means is, the judge is going to look at whether they showed up to court dates and followed the judge’s directions in the past.
Some courts see certain charges like resisting law enforcement as demonstrating a disdain for authority. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you sort out when asking for a bond review hearing is the right move and when it might be more trouble than it’s worth.
Special Cases: Murder and Treason
The Indiana Constitution treats murder and treason differently from other crimes, and it’s not uncommon for someone charged with murder to be held without bond. In cases of murder and treason, pretrial release is still possible, but the judge is also allowed to deny bail entirely. We’ll address this in more depth in a forthcoming blog.
The Indiana Pretrial Pilot Project
Most judges understand and agree that first-time offenders, folks with misdemeanors, or even some folks with Level 6 felony charges are not going to flee the county or state to avoid justice. They’re going to show up to court, because they have a family, they have wife, they have a job, or they have kids.
With that in mind, Indiana’s Pretrial Pilot Project aims to promote policies that maximize public safety, court appearance, and pretrial release. These days, more and more Indiana counties and judges are approving OR releases (where the defendant is released on their own recognizance), which don’t require a bond.
OR releases—where you make a promise to appear in court—are becoming more common with lower-level offenses, especially if there is no victim or significant criminal history. This is nice, because it happens to line up with one of our most treasured legal ideals: that of being presumed innocent until proven guilty.
If you have any questions about getting out of jail in Indiana, or if you have a loved one trying to get you to hire an attorney to reduce their bond amount, don’t hesitate to reach out. We love talking criminal defense and helping people and families with their problems, so give us a call at 317-632-3642 and remember—always plead the 5th!