How the Severity of a Crime Impacts Bail Amounts

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Not all crimes are treated equally under Colorado state law. From the moment a person is arrested in Denver County or Lakewood, their treatment - including whether they are offered bail and, if so, what that bail will be - will be largely dictated by the severity of the crime they are accused of. In most cases, the accused will be offered bail from a bail schedule and then post bond with the help of a bail bond agent.

In other cases, however, they may be held until a bail hearing can be arranged. At this time, it will largely be up to the presiding judge to decide an appropriate bail amount or to reject bail altogether.

In this guide, the Tayler Made Bail Bonding team examines how a crime's severity affects the bail amount.

A bail schedule is a predefined list of bail amounts set by a court for various offenses used to determine the bail for defendants based on the charges they face.

Bail Bond Basics

Bail is a financial guarantee undertaken to recognize that the accused is innocent until proven guilty and to help ensure they show up for their court date. If they don't appear, their bail is forfeited, and either they or the person who put up the bail money or co-signed the bail bond agreement will lose whatever money they put up to secure bail.

In Colorado, the amount of bail can often vary widely - from $100 for a Class II traffic offense to an incredible $100 million cash-only amount set in a 2023 Arapahoe County murder case.

As that paragraph indicates, the severity of the alleged crime can have an enormous impact on the bail amount, with a simple traffic offense requiring only $100 and a specific murder case resulting in bail being set 1 million times higher than that. They are not exactly affordable bail bonds.

What Are the Different Classes of Crimes?

Crime in the United States (and most countries throughout the world) is divided into misdemeanors and felonies.

Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors are less severe offenses that typically do not involve violence or guns and carry a maximum sentence of less than one year in jail. In Colorado, non-drug-related misdemeanors are classified into three classes:

Misdemeanor Classification Examples Punishment Under Colorado Law
Class 1 Misdemeanor Assault in the third degree, theft of property valued between $750 and $2,000, criminal mischief 6 to 18 months in jail, fines ranging from $500 to $5,000
Class 2 Misdemeanor Theft of property valued between $300 and $750, criminal mischief involving damage valued at less than $300, reckless driving 3 to 12 months in jail, fines ranging from $250 to $1,000
Class 3 Misdemeanor Harassment, disorderly conduct, first-time public drunkenness Up to 6 months in jail, fines ranging from $50 to $750

Felonies

Felonies are the more severe class of criminal behavior and include serious offenses. In Colorado, non-drug-related felonies are classified into six classes:

Felony Classification Examples Punishment Under Colorado Law
Class 1 Felony First-degree murder, treason Life imprisonment or death penalty
Class 2 Felony Second-degree murder, human trafficking of a minor 8 to 24 years in prison, fines ranging from $5,000 to $1,000,000
Class 3 Felony First-degree assault, arson, first-degree burglary 4 to 12 years in prison, fines ranging from $3,000 to $750,000
Class 4 Felony Vehicular homicide, identity theft 2 to 6 years in prison, fines ranging from $2,000 to $500,000
Class 5 Felony Theft of property valued between $2,000 and $5,000, possession of burglary tools 1 to 3 years in prison, fines ranging from $1,000 to $100,000
Class 6 Felony Criminal impersonation, unauthorized use of a financial transaction device 1 to 1.5 years in prison, fines ranging from $1,000 to $100,000

Drug-Related Offenses

In Colorado, drug-related crimes are categorized and sentenced differently compared to other types of offenses. The state classifies these felonies into distinct categories, each with specific examples and corresponding punishments under Colorado law.

Below is a table that outlines the drug felony classifications, providing insight into the examples and legal consequences associated with each category.

1.16 million Americans are arrested annually for the sale, manufacture or possession of illegal substances.
National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics

Drug Felonies

Drug Felony Classification Examples Punishment Under Colorado Law
Drug Felony 1 (DF1) Manufacturing or distributing large quantities of drugs 8 to 32 years imprisonment, three years mandatory parole, and a $5,000 to $1,000,000 fine.
Drug Felony 2 (DF2) Manufacturing or distributing smaller amounts of drugs 4 to 8 years imprisonment, two years mandatory parole, and a $3,000 to $750,000 fine. If the offense resulted in death or serious bodily injury, the sentence can be enhanced to 8 to 16 years imprisonment.
Drug Felony 3 (DF3) Possession of drugs with intent to distribute 2 to 4 years imprisonment, one-year mandatory parole, and a $2,000 to $500,000 fine. Aggravating factors can increase the sentence to 4 to 6 years imprisonment.
Drug Felony 4 (DF4) Simple possession of larger quantities of drugs Six months to 1-year imprisonment, one-year mandatory parole, and a fine of $1,000 to $100,000. If there are aggravating factors, the sentence can be increased to 1 to 2 years imprisonment.
Drug Felony Wobbler Eligible for misdemeanor sentencing after successful probation Initial sentence is probation, which can be converted to a misdemeanor if the defendant completes probation. If the probation is revoked, the defendant can face the original felony sentence, which varies based on the felony level, and the offense would have been categorized as without probation.

Drug Misdemeanors

Here is a table showing the classifications for Colorado drug misdemeanors, along with examples and the corresponding punishments under Colorado law:

Drug Misdemeanor Classification Examples Punishment Under Colorado Law
Drug Misdemeanor 1 (DM1) Possession of Schedule III, IV, or V drugs 6 to 18 months imprisonment, a fine of $500 to $5,000, or both.
Drug Misdemeanor 2 (DM2) Use of Schedule III, IV, or V drugs Up to 12 months imprisonment, a $50 to $750 fine, or both.
Petty Drug Offense Possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana Up to 6 months imprisonment, a fine of $50 to $100, or both.
Unclassified Drug Misdemeanor Varies by specific statute Punishments vary depending on the specific statute but generally involve lesser penalties than DM1 or DM2, such as smaller fines or shorter jail sentences. For example, possession of drug paraphernalia may result in a fine of up to $100 without jail time.

Understanding these classifications and their associated punishments can clarify various criminal activities' legal implications and consequences.

Additional Factors That Influence Bail Decisions

Judge completing paperwork beside wooden gavel

Certainly, the seriousness of the alleged crime is the primary driver of bail decisions, but it is not the only one. Other factors are also weighed by a judge when setting bail, including each of the following.

  • Criminal history
  • Ties to the community
  • Percieved flight risk.

In cases where questions arise, bail will be set during a bail hearing rather than simply taken from a bail schedule.

FAQs on Bail and Bail Schedules

The defendant is taken to jail and booked after an arrest. The booking process involves recording personal information, taking photographs and fingerprints, and listing the charges. Once booked, the defendant is given a bail amount based on the bail schedule, allowing for a quicker release if they can pay the bail or arrange a bail bond.

Bail can be denied in certain cases. This typically happens if the defendant is considered a flight risk, poses a danger to the community, or is charged with a particularly serious crime. When bail is denied, the defendant must remain in custody until trial.

Yes, a request to reduce the assigned bail amount can be granted under certain circumstances. Whether a schedule or a judge sets the bail, it may be too high for a person to pay, even with help from a bail bond company. If the bail amount is deemed excessive, violating the 8th Amendment of the US Constitution, the defendant or their attorney can request a bail reduction hearing. The court will then decide to lower, maintain, or raise the bail amount, providing written reasons if the original amount is upheld.

The chances of bail reduction depend on various factors, including the defendant's financial state (proof of hardship required), the nature of the crime, the defendant's criminal history, previous instances of skipped bail, and family responsibilities. The skill of the defense attorney also plays a crucial role. Despite many influencing factors, requesting a bail reduction is always worth considering if there is genuine financial hardship.

If a defendant cannot afford the bail amount, they can request a bail reduction hearing. During this hearing, the court evaluates the defendant's financial situation, the seriousness of the charges, and other relevant factors. The court can then decide to lower the bail, keep it the same, or even increase it. If the bail remains unaffordable, the defendant may have to remain in custody until their trial.

For Reliable 24-Hour Bail Bonds, Contact Tayler Made

If you or a loved one needs bail at any time of the day or night, call Tayler Made Bail Bonding at 303-623-0399.

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Tayler Made Bail Bonding is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

(303) 623-0399
email@taylermadebailbonding.com
3595 South Teller Street
Suite 300A
Lakewood, CO 80235
@TaylerMadeBail