Bail is an issue that is dealt with as the case is making its way through the criminal justice process to trial. Bail is set in cases for 2 reasons: 1. to ensure the defendant will show up to all court appearances and 2. to protect any potential victims or the community at large. Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 523 sets forth specific factors a judge should consider when determining if it is appropriate to lower someone’s bail:
the nature of the offense and mitigating or aggravating factors that could bear upon conviction or the penalty imposed; defendant’s employment status and financial condition; the nature of the defendant’s family relationships; length and nature of the defendant’s residence in the community; defendant’s age, character, and reputation; issues with drugs or alcohol; whether defendant has been previously released on bail and whether he has appeared as scheduled; defendant’s prior criminal record; any use of false identification; and any other factors the court deems relevant.
In addition to these factors, the Pennsylvania Constitution also states that bail is not appropriate in situations where the potential penalty for conviction could be life in prison or if the Court cannot establish factors to ensure the safety of any alleged victims involved in the case or the community at large.