What Options Are Available When Bail Is Set At A Million Dollars Or More?

The Constitution prohibits courts from setting bail at excessive amounts, but it's not unusual for judges to order defendants to pay a million dollars or more to be set free. For the average person, coming up with this amount of cash is impossible, but here are three things you can try if bail has been set at this amount in the case.

Challenge the Bail on Constitutional Grounds

As noted previously, the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution prohibits courts from setting bail at an excessive level in criminal court cases. Although what is considered excessive is sometimes up to interpretation, ordering a defendant to pay a million dollars or more in bail knowing the amount is well beyond the person's means can be seen as a violation of this rule. If your attorney successfully argues the case, the court would be forced to reduce the amount to something more appropriate.

Be aware, though, that you may have a hard time winning a bail reduction if the judge can justify the high amount. For instance, if the crime you're accused of is particularly heinous and the judge feels you are a risk to the community, you may be stuck with the original order. Likewise, if the judge set bail that high because the amount of money and assets available to you makes you a flight risk (i.e. you're rich), you'll have to prove you'll show up for your court appointments as agreed before the court will reduce bail.

Talk to a Bail Bondsman

The other option is to have a bondsman pay the bail required. In this situation, the company would give the court the money required and you would only be responsible for paying a fee that's equal to a percentage of the total bail amount. For instance, the fee may be 10 percent of the million dollars, so you would be required to pay $100,000. Although $100,000 is still a lot of money, it's significantly less than what you would've had to pay if you were dealing with the court directly.

It's important to note that the bondsman fee is non-refundable. So even though the defendant may show up to all court dates as agreed, you won't get that money back when the case concludes like you would if you paid the entire amount to the court yourself. Another issue is that not all bail bond companies are willing to handle cases where bail in excess of a million dollars or more has been ordered, because if the defendant skips bail, the company has to pay that money out of its pocket to cover its obligation to the court. Thus, you may have to call around to a few companies to find one willing to work with you.

Pledge Collateral

The courts know that coming up with cash can be difficult for many defendants and their families, so they are also often willing to take property instead of money to guarantee the bail. If you have property and other assets valued at the amount required by the court, you can pledge those to help get the defendant out of jail. Once the case concludes, the property will be returned to you as long as the defendant shows up as required.

The property must be valued at or more than the bail. If you're pledging a home with a mortgage attached, the amount of equity in the house must meet or exceed the bail. This is because the court will take possession of and sell the property if the defendant skips and wants to ensure it'll get the money it's due.

For more advice on dealing with high bail amounts or help getting yourself or a loved one out of jail, contact a company that offers bail bondsman services.