Bail amounts are set based on the crime, criminal history of the defendant, history of showing up to prior court dates or bond jumping, flight risk, and more. The average bail amount ranges from as low as $500 for misdemeanors up to $50,000 or more for felonies. Murder charges can come with a bail cost of $1,000,000. It can’t go much higher than that though, right? You’d be surprised at just how high bail can be set for some crimes. With extraordinarily violent crimes, a judge will usually deny bail, but in cases of white-collar or financial crimes, there may not be any danger, except for flight risk. Let’s look at some of the highest bail bond amounts in modern U.S. history.
$10 Million Dollar Bail - Bernie Madoff
Bernie Madoff was at the head of a $50 billion dollar Ponzi scheme that defrauded thousands, including Hollywood celebrities like Steven Spielberg and Kevin Bacon. Madoff was charged with 11 Federal felonies related to money laundering, securities fraud, wire fraud, etc. In 2008 a federal judge set his bail at $10,000,000 and required him to remain on 24hr house arrest. Considering Madoff’s status as a billionaire, this bail amount was relatively low. Madoff received 150 years in federal prison. In 2020 Madoff asked for compassionate release due to ailing health and coronavirus but was denied.
Bail Bond Cost: $1,000,000
$15 Million Dollar Bail - Samir Ramadan
The State of New York charged Samir Ramadan in 2013 with running a cigarette smuggling ring that netted over $50 million in profits. In addition to illegally selling cigarettes, police also alleged that Ramadan was funneling money back to middle eastern groups like Hamas. Samir and his brother later pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 3 years in prison.
Bail Bond Cost: $1,500,000
$25 Million Dollar Bail - Marion "Suge" Knight
Once a mogul of the rap world, Suge Knight posted more than one bail in his heyday. Facing murder charges from a hit and run incident in 2015, a Los Angeles County judge set the bail amount at $25,000,000. Knight collapsed in court immediately after the judge announced the 25 million dollar bail price. This bail amount was significantly higher than the average murder case in California. Suge Knight eventually pled “no contest” and was sentenced to 28 years in a California prison.
Bail Bond Cost: $2,500,000
$50- Million Dollar Bail - Naason Joaquin Garcia
Naason Joaquin Garcia was the head of a Mexico based church boasting over 1 million members. In 2019 Garcia was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport on charges of 26 felonies. He faced charges of human trafficking, child pornography, and rape of a minor. His massive following in Mexico and potential access to cash, combined with his charges’ severity, made him an extreme flight risk, earning him a $50,000,000 bail bond price.
Bail Bond Cost: $5,000,000
$66 Million Dollar Bail - Tiffany Li
Tiffany Li, facing murder charges in San Mateo County California for the death of Keith Green, was slapped with a $66,000,000 bail bond amount in 2017. Her family’s extreme affluence in both the United States and China and the potential to spend the rest of her life in prison made her a severe flight risk for jumping bail, according to San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. California courts require 2x the bail amount (initially $33,000,000) if a property is used to secure release with a bail bondsman or the court. In November of 2019, Tiffany Li was found not guilty of the murder charges she was facing.
Bail Bond Cost: $6,600,000
$100 Million Dollar Bail - Raj Rajaratnam
Raj Rajaratnam was the founder of Galleon Group, one of the largest hedge fund management firms in the world. He faced charges in a massive insider trading, several counts of conspiracy, and fraud in 2015. His enormous wealth and ties to foreign countries made him a flight risk, causing a judge to assign a $100,000,000 bail amount, the highest in U.S. history (at the time). Raj Rajaratnam was given 11 years in prison for his crimes.
Bail Bond Cost: $10,000,000
$100 Million Dollar Bail - Christopher Williams
Christopher Williams earned himself a $100,000,000 bail amount at 18 in Shelby County, Tennessee, in 2010. Roberts was charged with a string of felonies, including carjacking, aggravated robbery, and attempted murder. Christopher Wiliams had a history of jumping bail and combined with the number of violent crimes he committed, the judge felt a high bail amount was in order.
Bail Bond Cost: $10,000,000
$150 Million Dollar Bail - Kening Ma
The State of California charged Kening Ma and his wife for violating the California Clean Air Act in 2010. The couple was accused of importing ATV’s and motorcycles that did not pass U.S. emissions standards. Considering their means to flee trial, the judge and district attorney imposed a $150,000,000 bail. His wife’s bail was set at $75,000,000.
Bail Bond Cost: $15,000,000
$250 Million Dollar Bail - Michael Milken
Michael Milken was charged with insider trading, securities fraud, mail fraud, and filing false tax returns in the 1980’s. At the time Milken was known as “the highest-paid man on Wall Street”, giving him ample means to flee.
Bail Bond Cost: $25,000,000
$1 Billion Dollar Bail - Kim Freeman
Kim Freeman was charged in an Ohio court with operating a brothel in 2010. Freeman has no prior criminal record, but she did have heavy ties to Asia, making her a flight risk. The district attorney argued that she would feel at the first chance, and the judge agreed. The judge set bail at $1,000,000,000.
Bail Bond Cost: $100,000,000
$3 Billion Dollar Bail - Robert Durst
Real estate heir Robert Durst received the highest bail ever in the United States at $3,000,000,000. In 2003 he was charged with the murder of his wife and given a $1 billion dollar bail, which he posted. Durst skipped on his bail and was then rearrested and given new criminal charges of tampering with evidence. As a result, the judge set bail at $3 Billion.
Bail Bond Cost: $300,000,000