When it comes to arrest charges, the severity of the charge will play a major role in how a bond is set and how much it will cost. From personal recognizance to unbailable charges, here are some of the main differences that can affect bail between misdemeanors and felonies.
Felonies vs misdemeanors
Misdemeanors are by nature less severe charges though they do come in different classes. Misdemeanors tend to be for petty crimes such as vandalism, shoplifting up to a certain amount, and trespassing. These tend to be crimes that do not cause physical or bodily harm to anyone or cause serious financial loss. Felonies on the other hand are more severe. These can be charged by either the state or federal government and can come with big consequences such as considerable jail time and hefty fines. Felonies are charges like sexual assault, murder, identity theft, and terrorism.
Felonies will cost more
Though there are often many differences in how misdemeanors and felonies are treated, one of the biggest contrasts is how it will affect the bond cost. A felony will always make the bond set higher because there is a higher risk of flight due to more extreme consequences. Since the point of bond is to create a deterrent from not showing up to court, a felony needs to be set at a significant cost to ensure that the defendant will find the loss of money too high to take that chance. A misdemeanor will still have consequences if the defendant does not show but just because the stakes tend to be lower, it usually won’t be set overwhelmingly high.
If a defendant is a first-time offender and they are being charged with a misdemeanor, then a judge may choose to release the defendant on personal recognizance. What this means is that essentially the defendant will sign a contract promising to appear to all their mandatory court dates in exchange for release but they will not have to pay a bond cost. This option is almost never available for felony charges and may not be offered to someone with several previous charges but can be an act of leniency if the charges are minor or out-of-character.
Not all felonies are bailable
One last main difference between misdemeanors and felonies is that unless there is an extreme circumstance, there should be no issues on bail being set for a misdemeanor but there are a few instances in where a felony charge could be considered unbailable. These tend to be for the gravest charges such as murder, terrorism, or any instance where the judge is led to believe that releasing the defendant can lead to harm to others or themselves.