How Bail Works for Those Who Commit Petty Crimes

In general, the bail amount will depend and will be commensurate to the crime committed. Bail is not used as punishment for any offense; and thus, it should not be excessive. This is according to the Eighth Amendment of the US Constitution. Usually, the more serious the offense, the higher the bail amount is. In most states, there's a "bail schedule." This contains a list of offenses with their corresponding bail amount. But for cases that aren't as cut and dried, bail is often determined by a judge. Conversely, those who commit misdemeanors may be released under their own recognizance, wherein suspects aren't required to post bail. Here, individuals discharged on their own recognizance have to sign a contract that asserts their vow to appear in court during the dates that the court specifies.

Petty Crime

In the legal system, an offense can either fall in two classifications - minor offense or major offense. Major offenses are also known as felonies, while minor infractions are also known as misdemeanors or petty crimes. Petty crimes can be criminal or civil offenses and those who commit such acts are usually released after paying fines or penalties. Such offenders don't normally go to prison, but there are also some who are punished by imprisonment. In other words, those charged for misdemeanors are punished by imposing penalties and/or incarceration.

Rules and regulations do vary from one state to another or one country to another. What may be considered as a petty crime in one place may be classified as a grave felony in another. Furthermore, there are other factors that could enhance a petty crime, making it into a felony that warrants jail time for an offender.

Here are a few examples of petty crimes:

- Disorderly Conduct
- Disturbing the Peace
- DUI (driving under the influence)
- Trespassing
- Opening Letters without Authorization
- Obtaining Alcoholic Beverage for Consumption (Minor/Under 21)
- Allowing Someone (Minor/Under21) to Possess or Consume Alcoholic Beverage
- Failure and Refusal to Furnish Proof of Age and ID
- Intentionally Abandoning an Animal
- Petty theft/shoplifting

There are also misdemeanors that may be enhanced into felonies. When a misdemeanor case becomes a felony, the punishment will also be more severe. Legal authorities will look at other factors, such as:

- Suspect caused serious injury to others
- Suspect accidentally took a life
- Suspect has prior violations or convictions
- Suspect is a repeat offender

How much is the bail amount for Petty Crimes?

Most of the time, offenders will be fined and be kept in jail overnight or maybe a few hours. In some areas, offenders are ordered to spend a specific length of time in jail (usually 90 days). Fines for misdemeanors may be as low as $50 or as high as $2,000, depending on the act committed. As for the bail amount for misdemeanors, there are provisions and the bail sum will rely on such provisions. For instance, bail amount for unlisted infractions can be as low as $35, while bail for unlisted misdemeanors can sum up to $125, $250, $500 or $750. Usually, when the minimum fine is greater than the bail amount for unlisted offenses, the bail sum will be the total amount of the fine. Still, when petty crimes are elevated into felonies, the bail amount will depend on the crime committed, with considerations on the factors that have enhanced the offense.

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