Your first thought when a friend or loved one has a warrant out for their arrest is, “how do we get them out as soon as possible?” and that normally involves paying bail. Bail is money paid to the court to ensure that the person accused of the crime appears at their trial. It can save people weeks of incarceration while they wait for trial. Depending on the crime and the location, costs can vary pretty widely. We’ve put together this resource to help you figure out some average bail prices for various crimes. There are some factors that can make the bail costs significantly higher, like the severity of the crime, whether the defendant is seen as a danger to the community, prior criminal record, and assessed flight risk of the defendant. Remember, bail is not intended to be a punishment, but is instead to ensure the defendant will appear at the trial. Because of this, the 8th amendment states that you have the right to a fair bail amount. If the bail costs are too high for you to pay, or you believe they are not proportionate to the crime you are being charged with, consult a lawyer to see what options you may have to reduce the amount, or work with a bail bondsman.
Each jurisdiction is going to set their bail costs differently, and they typically take into account many factors. Many areas also have “sentence enhancements” which are standardized schedules for bail based on the crime committed. For example, assault charges can vary in bail cost from $10,000 to as much as $200,000 depending on the location, severity, and record of the accused.
How is Bail Cost Determined?
Typically, a judge sets the bail amount for the defendant. They may choose anything from no bail for the crime or denying bail for the defendant completely if the crime was severe, violent, and the person will be a danger to the community if released. Here are the other factors that a judge may take into account to determine the cost of bail.
- Prior criminal record
- Potential threat to the victim, public, or family
- Other pending charges or cases
- Record of appearing in court
If the defendant has a history of not appearing in court, or has previously fled while out on bail and failed to appear, the bail amount will likely either be very high, or the judge may deny bail altogether. The costs are put in place to protect the community, and the judge will make their decision based on the threat the individual poses If a defendant is charged with a minor charge, and has significant ties to the community, or is a publicly recognizable figure, they may be released without having to post bail.
It is also important to keep in mind that felonies carry a significantly higher cost than misdemeanors do. Since the sentence the defendant may face is significantly higher for a felony crime, the judge may see the defendant as having a greater flight risk. Whereas, for a misdemeanor, the flight risk is much lower as the final sentence if they are convicted will be less severe.
If a bail amount is set higher than someone can afford, or at an amount that is disproportionate to the crime, the case can be brought to the Court of Appeals to reduce the bail amount. The likelihood of this process succeeding is highly dependent on location and the jurisdiction in question. Some are more likely to reduce the bail cost while others will keep the cost where it was initially set. Consulting a lawyer will help determine if this option is available to you.
Bail Amounts for Felony Crimes
Felony crimes will typically have a higher cost to get out on bail, in some cases as much as 5 to 10 times higher than misdemeanor crimes. If the crime was violent, was a capital offense, a murder charge with prominent evidence or the individual has a history of not appearing in court, the judge may deny bail altogether. These are average costs for each felony crime, as these costs are going to vary by location.
Murder Bail Amount
These cases often have no bail set, i.e. the person will not be released pending trial. If the charge is a 2nd-degree murder charge, the bail is typically around $250,000. If the person is charged as an accessory to 1st-degree murder, then the cost is doubled, or $500,000. For 1st degree murder, if bail is set, it is not uncommon for it to be near the $1,000,000 mark.
Manslaughter Bail Amount
There are different levels of manslaughter, and it often may seem like a fine line to distinguish between manslaughter and murder. Manslaughter is the killing of a person without initially having the intent to harm or kill. Often, a voluntary manslaughter charge results from committing another felony (like a robbery) or is an escalation of assault and battery. There are two levels of manslaughter, voluntary and involuntary. Involuntary manslaughter applies when the crime is not intentional or is committed during a more minor crime (like reckless driving). Voluntary manslaughter typically gets a bail cost of $100,00 and involuntary around $25,000.
Assault Bail Amount
Like manslaughter, there are many levels of assault and different crime severity will result in higher or lower bail amounts. If the judge determines that the assault was with the intention of committing a more serious violent crime, they may set the bail as high as $1,000,000, similar to first-degree murder. This is to protect the intended victim from further harm if the judge determines there is a risk of the individual committing the crime again. Assault with a firearm is often around $50,000, while assault with a deadly weapon is around $25,000.
Rape Bail Amount
Rape charges vary quite widely depending on the state’s stance on rape crimes and sexual assault. States that are more strict on this may have bail charges of up to $100,000 or more for rape charges, while states with lighter sentencing for sexual assault may only have bail costs of $25,000 to $50,000. Again, the safety of the victim is taken into account, especially if the defendant has a record of assault in the past.
Robbery Bail Amount
Robbery bail cost varies anywhere from $25,000 to $100,00 depending on the circumstances of the crime. Bail cost on the higher end is more likely for someone who has previously committed a felony crime, used a firearm and force during the robbery, or if the robbery is 1st degree. The lower end of the scale is the minimum amount set for robberies, and may be used in areas where the average income is significantly lower, if the crime did not involve force, or resulted in a lower value loss for the victim.
Kidnapping Bail Amount
Bail amounts for kidnapping have a wide range from $25,000 up to $1,000,000. If the person being kidnapped is a child, and is in a state with a higher average income, the bail can be set as high as $500,000. The highest bail cost is seen in cases where the kidnapping occurs during another felony crime (carjacking, for example). The lowest bail amounts are seen in lower-income states in the South and Midwest.
Carjacking Bail Amount
Carjacking frequently overlaps with other felony crimes and therefore can incur high bail costs, up to $100,000 or more. It typically involves, force, fear, and can sometimes result in the kidnapping of people in the vehicle. In these cases, it is likely the bail will be set on the higher end of the scale.
Arson Bail Amount
The location of the arson is important in the cost of bail that will be set. If the location of the arson is owned or inhabited property, the costs can be as high as $200,000, especially if there is intent to harm. If the location is public land, like a national forest, the bail amount may be as low as $50,000. It is often a crime associated with arrests at riots or protests, and in those circumstances, bail can be set at $150,000.
Burglary Bail Amount
The cost of bail for burglary can vary from $20,000 to $50,000. If the value of the items stolen is taken into account, and often the bail will be set at that value. A burglary that involves violence or overlaps with another felony crime will result in higher charges. Petty theft charges fall under the umbrella of burglary and will have a cost closer to the low end of the range.
Stalking Bail Amount
Based on income and state, the bail cost can be anywhere from $10,000-$20,000 for stalking. In many areas, a judge will set the bail after a hearing as the situation can vary significantly, and the potential danger to the victim needs to be evaluated.
Possession of Drugs Bail Amount
The bail cost for illegal drug possession will vary based on quite a few factors. The amount of the drug in question, the intent to distribute, and the previous drug charges will come into play. Some states will have a set bail schedule by the quantity of drugs, versus other states will determine the bail amount based on previous offenses. In states that focus on previous offenses, the first offense may be as low as $2,500, while second offenses will be near $5,000. California has a schedule set based on quantity, with 1lbs+ set at $100,000, 1-3 kilos set at $500,000, and 4-10 kilos at $1,000,000. It is worth noting that many drug possession charges at smaller amounts or without intent to distribute are classified as misdemeanors rather than felonies.
Hit and Run Bail Amount
The range for bail cost on a Hit and Run is $5,000-$10,000 but can be up to $50,000 in some states if death occurs as a result of the hit and run. If there are no injuries, then the lower amount of $5,000 is more likely, with some bodily injury resulting in higher bail cost.
Possession of a Concealed Weapon Bail Amount
Concealed weapon charges can result from people having the weapon either on their person or in their vehicle. It typically has a bail cost of $20,000 but if there was intent to commit a crime, if the person has previously been charged with a crime involving a weapon, or if there are other charges on their record, the cost could be up to $50,000.
Illegal Possession of a Loaded Weapon Bail Amount
The bail cost for possession of a loaded weapon is very dependent on the firearm laws in each state. Areas that are stricter on gun control like California and New York may have bail costs of $20,000 or more, but states that have more lax laws may see bail amounts of just $500. As with most other crimes on this list, the criminal history of the individual plays a large role in the amount of bail set.
Bail Amounts for Misdemeanor Crimes
Bail cost for misdemeanors is generally significantly lower than the cost for felony charges, but like with felony bail bonds, the prior history of the individual plays a huge role. If an individual has multiple DUI charges, for example, the judge may have a case for it being more dangerous to release the defendant as they are more likely to commit another crime if they do post bail. We’ve gathered some averages to give you an estimation for bail costs for several types of misdemeanor crimes.
Simple Assault and Battery Bail Amount
Assault and Battery bail costs vary as they are generally determined by the severity of the action, prior record, and who the assault was against. For example, assault or battery against a family member or other member of your household is usually between $2,500 and $5,000. But, sexual battery or battery against a spouse can be as high as $10,000.
Violating a Restraining Order Bail Amount
The cost of bail for violating a restraining order has one of the widest ranges and is normally based on a criminal assessment. The income level of the state is factored into that assessment, then bail cost is based on both, and can range from $1,000-$15,000.
Possession of a Controlled Substance Bail Amount
Like illegal drug possession, the bail bond cost for possession of a controlled substance is based on the number of similar charges the individual has. For a first time offender, bail cost can be as low as $2,500 but quickly can jump up to $10,000 for second and third offenses. Some states may also take quantity into account as well, and therefore determine intent to distribute. The latter means a higher bail cost, while a small amount may result in a lower cost.
DUI or DWI Bail Amount
Depending on the location of the crime, the state may separate DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) into different charges (DWI being more severe), while some locations use DUI as an umbrella for all driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs. Some states have specific programs to combat drunk driving and will have punitively high bail costs as parts of those programs. The cost for the first offense of DWI or DUI can run between $500 and $2,500 depending on the state. Universally, bail cost increases with the number of prior offenses. The second offense bail cost will be closer to $10,000, a third offense increases that amount to $15,000, and at the fourth charge, it becomes a felony crime with a $50,000 bail cost.
Public Intoxication Bail Amount
Public intoxication is generally viewed as a minor charge and has a lower bail cost, if any at all, to reflect that. Bail cost for public intoxication falls between $200 and $500.
DUI on Suspended License Bail Amount
The bail cost for a DUI on a suspended license starts at around $2,500. Depending on the reason for the suspension of the license (like for another DUI) there may be a higher bail that reflects the number of DUI offenses the individual has committed. At the highest, a fourth DUI charge can result in a felony charge and a bail cost of $500,000.
Bail costs vary widely across states, crimes, and severity of crimes. In many places, the bail is set by a judge or magistrate, and there is no pre-established schedule, so costs can either be higher or lower than the averages we’ve laid out here. Bail costs also typically reflect the average income in the jurisdiction area, and that can change the bail cost significantly. If you need help paying bail, services like bail bondsmen can help by giving the court a “surety bond” that they will pay the bail if you fail to appear. You typically have to pay them 10% of the bail bond, plus any costs associated with getting the defendant to appear in court. There are also legal processes available to help people accused of a crime if they feel their bail cost is set too high. Consulting a lawyer is the best way to see if any of the court’s appeal processes can apply to your case, and reduce the amount of bail you have to pay.