Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure – Bail Schedule

Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure

Rule 7. Release.

Rule 7.2. Right to release on one’s personal recognizance or on bond.

(a) BEFORE CONVICTION. Any defendant charged with an offense bailable
as a matter of right may be released pending or during trial on his or her personal
recognizance or on an appearance bond unless the court or magistrate
determines that such a release will not reasonably assure the defendant’s
appearance as required, or that the defendant’s being at large will pose a real
and present danger to others or to the public at large. If such a determination is
made, the court may impose the least onerous condition or conditions contained
in Rule 7.3(b) that will reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance or that will
eliminate or minimize the risk of harm to others or to the public at large. In
making such a determination, the court may take into account the following:

1. The age, background and family ties, relationships and circumstances
of the defendant.

2. The defendant’s reputation, character, and health.

3. The defendant’s prior criminal record, including prior releases on
recognizance or on secured appearance bonds, and other pending cases.

4. The identity of responsible members of the community who will vouch
for the defendant’s reliability.

5. Violence or lack of violence in the alleged commission of the offense.

6. The nature of the offense charged, the apparent probability of
conviction, and the likely sentence, insofar as these factors are relevant to the
risk of nonappearance.

7. The type of weapon used, e.g., knife, pistol, shotgun, sawed-off
shotgun.

8. Threats made against victims and/or witnesses.

9. The value of property taken during the alleged commission of the
offense.

10. Whether the property allegedly taken was recovered or not; damage or
lack of damage to property allegedly taken.

11. Residence of the defendant, including consideration of real property
ownership, and length of residence in his or her place of domicile.

12. In cases where the defendant is charged with a drug offense, evidence
of selling or pusher activity should indicate a substantial increase in the amount
of bond.

13. Consideration of the defendant’s employment status and history, the
location of defendant’s employment, e.g., whether employed in the county where
the alleged offense occurred, and the defendant’s financial condition.

14. Any enhancement statutes related to the charged offense.

(b) BAIL SCHEDULE. The following schedule is established as a general
guide for circuit, district and municipal courts in setting bail for persons charged
with bailable offenses. Except where release is required in the minimum
scheduled amount pursuant to the Rules of Criminal Procedure, courts should
exercise discretion in setting bail above or below the scheduled amounts.

BAIL SCHEDULE

Recommended Range

Felonies:

Capital felony $50,000 to No Bail Allowed

Murder $15,000 to $ 75,000

Class A felony $10,000 to $ 60,000

Class B felony $ 5,000 to $ 30,000

Class C felony $ 2,500 to $ 15,000

Drug manufacturing
and trafficking $ 5,000 to $1,500,000

Misdemeanors (not included elsewhere in the schedule):

Class A misdemeanor $ 300 to $ 6,000

Class B misdemeanor $ 300* to $ 3,000

Class C misdemeanor $ 300 to $ 1,000

Violation $ 300 to $ 500

Municipal Ordinance Violations $ 300 to $ 1,000

Traffic-Related Offenses:

DUI $ 1,000 to $ 7,500

Reckless driving $ 300 to $ 1,000

Speeding $ 300 to $ 500

Other traffic violations $ 300 to $ 500

*$300 was set as the lower limit in compliance with Ala. Code 1975, § 15-13-105,
providing that “in violation and misdemeanor cases the minimum amount of bail shall be
$300 for each offense charged.

(c) AFTER CONVICTION AND SENTENCING.

(1) A defendant who has been convicted of an offense and who for that
offense has been sentenced to punishment by death, by life imprisonment, or by
imprisonment for a term in excess of twenty (20) years, shall not be released.

(2) Any defendant who has been convicted of an offense for which the
defendant has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment for twenty (20) years or
less may be released on a secured appearance bond or on the defendant’s
personal recognizance,

(i) Upon application for release made concurrently with the filing of
a notice of appeal, or

(ii) If the application for probation is made, upon application for
release made at any time before probation has been granted or denied.

(d) DENIAL OF RELEASE. Release shall be denied after conviction and
sentencing if the trial court has reason to believe that an appearance bond or
conditions of release will not reasonably assure that the defendant will not flee, or
that the defendant’s being at large poses a real and present danger of harm to
any other person or to the public at large, or if at the time the sentence was
rendered, the defendant filed a notice of appeal and elected to waive release and
to begin serving the sentence.

[Amended 11-30-93, eff 4-1-95; Amended eff. 5-17-95; Amended eff. 8-1-97;
Amended 6-21-2007, eff 9-1-2007.]

Committee Comments

The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides:
“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed,
nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

Art. 1, § 16, Alabama Constitution of 1901, provides:

“That all persons shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient
sureties, except for capital offenses, when the proof is evident or the
presumption great; and that excessive bail shall not in any case be
required.”

See also Ala.Code 1975, § 15-13-2, and -3, for right to bail as a matter of
right.

Assuming that the offense is bailable, Rule 7.2 is based on the
presumption of innocence of the accused and the policy that a defendant should
be released pending trial whenever possible. The defendant is eligible for a
recognizance release unless the judge determines that the defendant’s presence
would not thereby be reasonably assured or that the defendant poses a real and
present danger of harm to others. The list of factors to be considered is taken
from the ABA, Standards for Criminal Justice, Pretrial Release 10-5.1 (2d ed.
1986).

Section (b) recognizes that after conviction the defendant is no longer
presumed innocent and is not entitled admission to bail as a matter of right. If the
defendant’s sentence is for twenty (20) years or less, he can be admitted to bail,
in the judge’s discretion, unless the judge has reason to believe that bail will not
reasonably assure that the defendant will not flee, or that there is a real and
present danger to others posed by the defendant’s being at large, thereby
modifying Ala.Code 1975, § 12-22-170, which unconditionally allows bail if the
sentence does not exceed twenty (20) years.

Under Rule 7.2(b)(2)(i), a convicted defendant may apply for release on
an appearance bond or on his personal recognizance at the time of filing a notice
of appeal. This changes former practice whereby application for release had to
be made with the filing of notice of appeal at the time sentence was rendered
(i.e., at the time sentence was pronounced), an unduly restrictive, unfair, and
technical trap for the unwary practitioner. See Ex parte Downer, 44 Ala.App. 77,
203 So.2d 132 (1967); Ex parte Rogers, 53 Ala.App. 245, 298 So.2d 665 (1974);
Ex parte Pennington, 57 Ala.App. 128, 326 So.2d 656 (1976). For “Appeal as of
Right—When Taken,” see A.R.App.P., Rule 4(b). Cf. Fed.R.Crim.P., Rule 46(c).
Rule 7.2(b)(2) allows some discretion to the trial judge in releasing the
defendant on bail or on the defendant’s personal recognizance. If the defendant
has initially filed a notice of appeal at the time sentence was pronounced but
elected to waive release and to begin serving the sentence, and thereafter
requests that the sentence be suspended, whether to grant bail is left to the
discretion of the trial court. There are no cases on this point, and there has been
some question whether the trial court retains jurisdiction over the defendant,
because the defendant will have already begun serving sentence. However, it is
preferable that the trial court make the release decision, because that court is
more familiar with the case, because the record is usually still with the trial court,
and because any witnesses would be more readily available to that court.

Rule 7.2(b)(2) conforms with the Alabama Rules of Appellate Procedure.

Rule 9(b) of the appellate rules provides: “Release after judgment of conviction
shall be governed by Title 15, §§ 368 and 372 [Ala.Code 1975, § 12-22-170].”

Committee Comments to Amendment to Rule 7.2

Effective April 1, 1995

Rule 7.2(a) applies to pretrial release and is based on the presumption of
innocence of the accused and the constitutional and statutory right of a
defendant charged with a noncapital offense to be released on bail pending trial.
The 8th Amendment to the United States Constitution provides,
“Excessive bails shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel
and unusual punishments inflicted.” The Constitution of Alabama includes the
additional guaranty that all defendants charged with noncapital offenses have an
absolute right to bail prior to conviction. Article 1, Section 16, Alabama
Constitution of 1901, provides:

“That all persons shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient
sureties, except for capital offenses, when the proof is evident or the
presumption great; and that excessive bail shall not in any case be
required.”

The allowance of bail as a matter of right prior to conviction is also
recognized in Ala.Code 1975, § 15-13-2, and has been held to apply to
defendants charged with noncapital offenses who are subsequently arrested for
failure to appear on their scheduled court dates.

The provisions of Rule 7.2(a) authorizing judges and magistrates to
release defendants charged with bailable offenses on their personal
recognizance or an unsecured appearance bond are based on the presumption
of innocence of the accused and the policy that a defendant should be released
pending trial whenever possible. A defendant charged with an offense that is
bailable as a matter of right is eligible for a recognizance release unless the
judge or magistrate determines that the defendant’s presence would not thereby
be reasonably assured or that the defendant poses a real and present danger of
harm to others. As used in this rule, “personal recognizance” means a release of
the defendant without any condition of an undertaking relating to, or deposit of,
security. Such release is distinguishable from release conditioned on the posting
of bond or other security.

Subdivision (a) lists certain factors the court may consider when setting
bail. This list incorporates the factors previously included in Rule 2, Alabama
Rules of Judicial Administration, and is taken from the ABA Standards for
Criminal Justice, Pretrial Release, 10-5.1 (2d ed. 1968), written to ensure that
judicial officers not give inordinate weight to the nature of the present charge.
The term “community” as used in subsection (a)(4) shall be liberally
construed and not limited to the court’s jurisdiction.

Section (b) of the rule provides a bail schedule for trial courts and
magistrates to use in setting bail for persons charged with bailable offenses as
set forth in this rule and Rule 18, Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration. The
bail schedule, previously contained in Rule 2, Alabama Rules of Judicial
Administration, has been revised to reflect legislative changes in the maximum
amount of bail for municipal ordinance violations and the incorporation of drug
offenses into the Criminal Code and, in some instances, to recognize the
increased penalties now authorized for the certain enumerated offenses.
Upon recommendation of the Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on
Rules of Judicial Administration, the Advisory Committee on Criminal Procedure
recommended this amendment to Rule 7, Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure,
to incorporate the bail schedule (as amended), which was previously included in
Rule 2, Rules of Judicial Administration. It was the consensus of both committees
that, with the adoption of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, the bail schedule
should be included in Rule 7 of the criminal rules rather than continued in a rule
of judicial administration.

Except where release in the minimum scheduled amount is required by
law, see, e.g., Rule 4, Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure, the bail schedule
should be regarded only as a discretionary guide.

The bail schedule is based, in part, on the offense classification system
established under the Alabama Criminal Code. The “capital felony” category is
intended to cover those offenses provided in Article 2 of Chapter 5 of Title 13A,
Code of Alabama 1975 (“Alabama Criminal Code”), and amendments thereto.

Municipal ordinance infractions are included within the discretionary bail
schedule to assist municipal courts and district courts having jurisdiction over
municipal ordinance cases in setting bail for persons not released from custody
and comports with § 12-14-5, Ala.Code 1975, establishing the maximum bail
authorized for municipal ordinance violations. Because drug-related offenses are
now included in the Alabama Criminal Code, these offenses are not itemized
separately.

Although custodial arrest is not authorized for most traffic offenses, see
Ala.Code 1975, § 32-1-4, these offenses are listed within recommended ranges
for bail, to serve as a guide in instances where the defendant refuses to sign the
promise-to-appear portion of the Uniform Traffic Ticket and Complaint.

Section (c) recognizes that after conviction the defendant is no longer
presumed innocent and is not entitled to admission to bail as a matter of right. If
a defendant’s sentence is for twenty (20) years or less, the defendant can be
admitted to bail, in the judge’s discretion, unless the judge has reason to believe
that bail will not reasonably assure that the defendant will not flee, or has reason
to believe that there is a real and present danger to others posed by the
defendant’s being at large. Thus, Section (c) modifies Ala.Code 1975, § 12-22-
170, which unconditionally allowed bail if the sentence did not exceed twenty (20)
years.

Under Rule 7.2(c)(2)(i), a convicted defendant may apply for release on an
appearance bond or on the defendant’s personal recognizance at the time of
filing a notice of appeal. This changes former practice, whereby application for
release had to be made with the filing of a notice of appeal at the time the
sentence was rendered (i.e., when the sentence was pronounced); that former
practice presented an unduly restrictive, unfair, and technical trap for the unwary
practitioner. See Ex parte Downer, 44 Ala.App. 77, 203 So.2d 132 (1967); Ex
parte Rogers, 53 Ala.App. 245, 298 So.2d 665 (1974); Ex parte Pennington, 57
Ala.App. 128, 326 So.2d 656 (1976). For “Appeal as of Right—When Taken,” see
A.R.App.P., Rule 4(b). Cf. Fed.R.Crim.P., Rule 46(c).

Rule 7.2(c)(2) allows some discretion to the trial judge in releasing the
defendant on bail or on the defendant’s personal recognizance. If the defendant
initially files a notice of appeal when the sentence is pronounced, but elects to
waive release and to begin serving the sentence, and thereafter requests that the
sentence be suspended, whether to grant bail is left to the discretion of the trial
court. There are no cases on this point, and there has been some question
whether the trial court retains jurisdiction over the defendant, since the defendant
will have already begun serving the sentence. However, it is preferable that the
trial court make the release decision, since that court is more familiar with the
case, the record is usually still with the trial court, and any witnesses would be
more readily available to that court.

Note from the reporter of decisions:

The order amending Rule
7.2(b), effective September 1, 2007, is published in that volume of
Alabama Reporter that contains Alabama cases from 957 So. 2d.