How is Bail Set? Which Criminal Records Can Be Expunged?

The purpose of setting a bail amount is to obligate and encourage offenders to appear for their court heating after being released from custody. They should be high enough to make offenders want to appear for court, but not so high that they are incredibly unreasonable. In fact, the 8th Amendment in our United States Constitution protects this right.

Setting an Amount

For most jurisdictions around the country, bail schedules are used to help set bail amounts. These are assigned bail amounts for specific types of crimes. For instance, the crime of shoplifting a pair of sunglasses from the convenient store may have a bail amount set at $1,000, while a drunk driving charge may start at $5,000. Such schedules differ from state to state, and sometimes even county to county.

Getting Out of Jail

If the surety schedule for your crime comes with a lower bail amount, you could get out of jail by paying the total bail amount assigned to you. This is the quickest way of getting out of jail, but it is often very inconvenient giving up that much cash at once; especially since it is likely that offenders have lost time off work being arrested and in jail. For this reason, most people use a bail bond company instead. Using a bail bondsman to post your bond and get out of jail is virtually just as fast as paying the bond amount directly. This means it is worth the non-refundable fee you must pay for bondsmen service.

Judges

Judges hold a hearing called a bail hearing, in which they discuss the surety options for the defendant. Judges have the discretion of setting a person’s bail amount, whether that means setting it high, setting it low, or granting no bail requirement at all. This is called being released on your own recognizance, commonly referred to as being “OR’d.” Other times, a judge might deny bail privileges altogether. This is common for habitual offenders and those with a history of fleeing.

Additional factors that influence bond amounts include an offender’s criminal history, the severity of their crime, the chances of them fleeing, their financial resources, and the risk they pose to themselves and others.

Which Criminal Records Can Be Expunged?

If you are interesting in learning more about filing for criminal record expungement, it is safe to say you are a smart person. So many doors will open for you after you seal or expunge your public criminal background. Opportunities for jobs, housing, loans, schooling, professional licenses, government services, dating, and so much more will be a more comfortable and rewarding experience. Just knowing that your criminal past is private, and not accessible by the general public, you can feel more confident and comfortable in life.

Right now, you probably have many questions about the petition and approval process. The expungement process varies among jurisdictions, as do the legal perquisites to qualify. Qualifications also vary depending on several factors, including how long it has been since the date of your conviction, the severity of the crime, the extent of your criminal history, your current status with the law, and more. It is best to start with the question of whether or not you qualify.

Qualifying

To learn if you qualify, you must seek counsel from a criminal defense lawyer who is well-versed in the criminal record expungement laws in your state of offense. They can help you determine your eligibility, and assist you with the filing of your petition. Keep in mind, one small mistake can get your application for expungement denied. You need a lawyer to help you file the paperwork and meet the strict deadlines in time.

Not everyone qualifies to have their records expunged. Sometimes this is because it has simply not been enough time, or because their crimes are not eligible for expungement. Virtually all crimes are eligible for expungement, with a few obvious exceptions. Here are the crimes and convictions that CANNOT be expunged from a person’s record:

  • Murder
  • Homicide
  • Manslaughter
  • Human Trafficking
  • Sex Crimes
  • Sexual Offenses
  • Child Abuse
  • Endangering of a Child
  • Driving a Commercial Vehicle Under the Influence

Hire a Lawyer

Since procedures and qualifications are so different and depend on various factors, the filing process to expunge criminal records can be confusing and complicated. For this reason, it is vital to hire a professional criminal defense lawyer who specializes in sealing and expungement in your city. They have the skills and the knowledge to ensure your petition is filed correctly and on time.