A flight risk is the term used by the court in referring to someone who has been charged with a crime and is likely to flee the state, or country to avoid the criminal proceedings which he is required to attend. Once a person has been arrested and charged with a crime, he is put into custody. He may then request bail or to be out of jail on his own recognizance, which means he would be free to leave the jail and appear at the next court hearing.
Bail is set to guarantee the return of someone who is out on his own recognizance. If a person cannot provide bail, bond is another option. A bond is some sort of property or money offered by a third party to guarantee the appearance of the defendant. Sometimes bond is arranged through a bond company, and sometimes it is offered by family or friends of the defendant.
Flight Risk and Bail Amounts
When determining the amount of bail or bond that would be appropriate for any given person, the court must determine whether the person standing in the courtroom at that moment is a flight risk. Of course no criminal is going to declare that he does not intend to appear at a hearing or trial. Every criminal claims he will appear at the scheduled hearing, but some people simply don’t show up. If the court decides the defendant is a flight risk, bail might be denied.
- If you need legal assistance with a Criminal Charge, click here for a Free Case Review with a Criminal Defense Lawyer near you. This website is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice.
Example Bail Situations
One famous case was that of celebrity Wesley Snipes. Wesley Snipes was charged with tax evasion and was considered a flight risk because he did not offer any defenses to his charges. It is extremely uncommon for a charged person to offer no defense for the charges of criminal activity and the court believed he didn’t offer any defenses because he did not take the charges seriously and did not intend to stay in the country to face the charges or consequences if convicted.
In the case of Wesley Snipes, his brothers offered their very expensive homes as surety that Snipes would appear for trial, but the court still denied his request and determined his flight risk was too high to let him out of custody.
In another case, a defendant had close ties to organized crime and the court feared that if the defendant were to leave custody, his friends in organized crime could hide him and he would never return to court to face the charges against him. Of course, these are cases with extreme flight risk determination factors.
Subjective Determination of Risk
In determining who is a greater flight risk, the court considers each case individually. There is no formula or exact method. It is a very subjective process and one in which it is helps to have an attorney to argue to the court. An attorney can prove to the court that there are too many reasons for the defendant to stay and those reasons make the likelihood of fleeing lower. The following is a list of some things the court might consider in determining whether someone is a flight risk:
- Does this person have ties to the community?
- Is he employed in the community?
- Does he have family members in the community?
- Has he previously appeared for scheduled hearings or has he previously fled?
- How much can the defendant afford to pay?
The court will weigh these factors, and others such as the rare factors in the situations mentioned above, in attempting to determine what the flight risk is for each defendant.
DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.