Getting bailed out of jail is one of the first major issues in a Philadelphia criminal case. Below is a discussion of factors Philadelphia courts consider when setting bail. This article will also discuss motions to reduce bail or modify conditions of bail.

Related: Constitutional Rights in Philadelphia Criminal Drug & Gun Cases – The 4th Amendment


Factors for setting bail are laid out in Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 523. Courts may consider the following.

  1. The nature of the charges and any mitigating/aggravating factors that affect the possibility of a conviction.
  2. The defendant’s employment status, employment history and financial condition.
  3. The defendant’s family relationships.
  4. The defendant’s residence status (length of time living in the local area, family ties to the area, etc.).
  5. The defendant’s age, character, reputation, mental condition, and any alcohol/drug addiction issues.
  6. Any past bail history if applicable.
  7. Any past record of fleeing to avoid arrest, escape, etc.
  8. The defendant’s prior criminal record.
  9. Whether the defendant’s arrest/investigation involved the use of false identification.
  10. In addition, the court may consider any other relevant factors.

In a Philadelphia criminal case, the local municipal court judges will determine bail and any bail conditions. Bail can vary from ROR (release on own recognizance) to secured bail. Read more about the types of bail in criminal cases in Philadelphia.

In addition, Pennsylvania courts have wide latitude in terms of ordering bail conditions which can vary depending on the nature of the case. For instance, in a gun charge case, the defendant may be prohibited from possessing any firearms.


Defendants can motion a court to reduce bail or modify conditions of bail. Under the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, excessive bail is prohibited, i.e., cannot be so high as to effectively force a defendant to stay in jail. However, bail can outright be denied in certain circumstances, such as where the defendant has previously absconded or is otherwise determined to be a serious flight risk.

Succeeding in a motion to reduce bail requires careful consideration of all the facts, the defendant’s status, ability to pay, etc. Under PA law, bail may be reduced where it is shown that the defendant is not a flight risk and does not pose a danger to the community. Therefore, these motions often require presenting evidence, such as statements from employers or others in the community.

More: My son was arrested, charged with drug dealing in Philadelphia. Will he go to prison?

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