A local judge’s explanation of the process for determining bail and sureties shows that it is quite tedious and time-consuming.
A bond is a sum of money that defendants must pay in court if they want to get out of jail. A bond is a solution that does not involve paying upfront, but uses other means to secure a release.
A court judge sets the bond and is guided by both the United States Constitution and the Oklahoma Constitution, under the Eighth Amendment.
“Both in a summary say, ‘Anyone arrested is entitled to reasonable bail,'” District Judge Doug Kirkley said. “We’re talking about bail, before the case is heard, and if a conviction is handed down, because there is a separate set of rules if someone is convicted, and they will appeal.”
Factors must be determined when a judge sets bail or bond: what is the allegation, what is probable cause and more.
“You read what the officer said with the questioning of witnesses and you determine if there is enough to detain the person. Is there probable cause that this person committed a crime? If not, you release them and tell them there isn’t enough to hold them,” Kirkley said.
If there is a probable cause determination, a judge will consider the number of charges. In a hypothetical scenario, a person is arrested for driving under the influence, did not have a driver’s license and was speeding.
“That’s three charges, and two of them are traffic related. [violations]so it would only be a $50 bond, and it’s a traffic issue,” he said.
The DUI charge is a misdemeanor, and Kirkley said they would look into the person’s criminal record or the amount of alcohol they had in their system at the time of the arrest.
“If it’s an aggravation, their blood alcohol level was 0.15; who is considerably drunk while driving. We’ll factor that in, and it’ll be somewhere in the neighborhood of a $1,500 bond to a $2,500 bond. It’s all based on a case-by-case basis,” Kirkley said.
Cases involving domestic violence charges are the exception.
“The state, through the district attorney, has the right to make a bail recommendation. We have to have a hearing on this, we have to have the defendant or the accused there, and if they don’t have a lawyer, we’re talking about appointing one for them,” Kirkley said.
This is usually done within 48 hours of an abuser being arrested for domestic violence. The DA’s office will read the probable cause document and the judge will have a hearing, when he asks if there’s a bail recommendation.
“[The DA] states what they think the link should be, then the judge makes the decision. It’s only about domestic violence,” Kirkley said.
When it comes to felony charges, the process is a bit different and a judge can deny bail.
“It’s going to depend on how the evidence is presented in the affidavit. There is a high probability that this person has committed murder, murder. I make that decision as a judge, and I can establish “no bond,” he said.
The arrested person can file a writ of habeas corpus or a petition to establish a bond with the court, and a hearing will be scheduled. Kirkley said there are factors the judge will consider: how long the defendant has lived in the community; employment or duration of employment; assets; or if there is a less restrictive way to keep the person behind bars during a trial.
“Based on the evidence, we can either deny bail or if it’s a case where the judge says, ‘I’m not setting bail, but if there’s evidence that they don’t pose a flight risk, or if there’s no risk to the community, ‘we can set bond or reduce bond,’ Kirkley said.
One thing Kirkley said people should be aware of is that judges are on call 24/7 so they can speak with prison administrators and set bail at any time of day. or night.
“People are arrested on holidays or weekends, so we take turns, and we usually have judges assigned, depending on what’s going on,” he said.