There are many things you might want to be in life, but when you’re facing criminal charges, a flight risk isn’t one of them. Once you’ve been arrested, though, the degree to which you meet that designation will determine the amount of your bail or even whether you’ll be getting out of jail at all. What would make you a flight risk in the first place, and how would a judge arrive at that conclusion?
The Role of Flight Risk in Setting Bail
In determining a person’s eligibility for bail, the judge will seriously consider whether that individual, once out on the street, would attempt to flee the city, the state or the country. A number of time-honored factors will affect his decision. If you’re lucky, he may simply decide to free you on your own recognizance. On the other hand, he may deny you bail altogether, thereby forcing you to remain behind bars until the date of your trial.
Common flight risk considerations include:
- Your level and type of employment. Good, well-paying and meaningful jobs aren’t always easy to come by, and people who have them are less likely than others to leave it all behind by skipping town. If you fit this description, the judge may consider you at low risk for taking flight.
- Financial stability. Although a positive economic condition might seem at first glance to lower someone’s flight risk, the opposite is often the case. Having a creditable sum of cash on hand can expedite anyone’s plans to abscond under cover of darkness. On the other hand, a defendant with little money to spare could find it difficult to travel any distance or stay away for long, and this will lower his flight risk quotient.
- Your previous criminal record. If you’re a first-time offender charged with a misdemeanor, most judges will classify you as low-risk for staging a disappearance. They may even forego bail entirely, choosing instead to release you in good faith that you will meet your future court date as required. However, this is not likely to happen if your record is peppered with previous offenses, particularly if you have a history of skipping bail or failing to appear in court.
- The severity of your current charges. Serious criminal charges for which conviction will entail severe punishment could encourage any defendant to flee. This is particularly true in cases for which a preponderance of evidence exists to back up the prosecutorial effort.
- Family and community ties. If you have close relatives in the area, work nearby or volunteer with local charitable groups, the odds of your taking it on the lam will likely plummet in the judge’s eyes. If, on the other hand, you are merely passing through the region or have nothing pressing to hold you there, your flight risk classification is sure to rise accordingly.
Your degree of flight risk will determine whether you stay behind bars, leave on your own recognizance or pay for the privilege of walking free. The bail money, if you find yourself forced to put it up, is meant as an incentive. When you appear in court as expected, you will get it back. On the other hand, if you choose to skip bail and flee the area, you can say goodbye to your bail money and hello to an arrest warrant.
There is no set playbook for determining whether a particular person will or will not be a flight risk. The judge will determine each case individually, and it is up to the defendant to make the case that he or she has no intention of leaving town or missing a court appearance.
When Judges Deny Bail Entirely
Regardless of whether you do or do not present a flight risk, the judge may decide to deny bail and hold you in jail if:
- He feels that you could pose a danger to the public.
- You’ve been charged with a violent or drug-related crime.
- There’s a chance that you’ll use your time out of jail to tamper with witnesses or destroy the evidence.
- You are a multiple-felony offender.
- The crime for which you’ve been accused is punishable by life imprisonment or death.
Obtaining Legal Assistance
When you’re arrested for a crime, your flight risk rating is only one of the factors that determine your chances of getting out of jail. If you are having trouble obtaining a temporary release or defending yourself against criminal charges, Weiner Law Group can help. Don’t sit behind bars for any longer than you have to. Call now for a free consultation at 702-202-0500.