To build upon our prior discussion of how bail can be posted, this post will discuss the constitutional and statutory restrictions on bail amounts in Minnesota. Many factors can come into play when a judge is determining a bail amount. However, there are limits as to how much bail can be imposed. The applicable limit depends on the specific crime being charged and whether that crime is a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or felony level offense.
In Minnesota, the maximum cash bail that may be imposed upon a person charged with a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor offense is generally double the highest cash fine that may be imposed for that offense. This means that the maximum bail that may be imposed in misdemeanor cases is generally $2,000, and in gross misdemeanor cases the maximum is $6,000.
However there are statutory exceptions to these rules that allow for bail to be set at four, six or ten times the statutory maximum when certain offenses are involved. A common example of one of these exceptions is in DWI cases, where bail of up to four times the highest cash fine for the offense can be imposed. In DWI cases involving a blood alcohol concentration of 0.16 or more, statute mandates that the maximum bail of $12,000 be imposed in order for a person to be released, unless the person agrees to abstain from alcohol and submit to alcohol monitoring.
In felony cases, bail amounts are restricted only by the bail provisions of the United States and Minnesota Constitutions, which is why it is not uncommon to see bail set at hundreds of thousands of dollars in cases involving violent felony crimes. But regardless of the crime charged, the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the imposition of “excessive bail.”
Where statute does not mandate the imposition of a specific amount of bail, a criminal defense attorney can argue to have the amount of bail that is set by the court lowered or completely eliminated. This bail issue is sometimes the first battle to be fought in a criminal case, but it is an important one because the result can mean the difference between being at liberty or being in a jail cell as the case is litigated.
If you, or a loved one, are facing a criminal charge of any kind, contact The Law Office of John J. Leunig at 952-540-6800, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for a free consultation. The lawyers at The Law Office of John J. Leunig provide vigorous, intelligent and personalized representation to people accused of crimes in State and Federal courts.