Amounts of bail are determined for a number of reasons
I have a question regarding bail amounts. In a Mail Tribune story this week a man was given $2 million bail by a local judge. According to the story, the man was outraged. I seem to remember he's suspected of approaching young girls in his van. I don't think the judge was wrong to give him this high of an amount. I think we should lock people like this up and throw away the key. What are the rules about bail?
— Matthew B. Central Point
We think you must be referring to the case of Leon Douglas Remstedt Jr. Remstedt, 41, was arraigned Tuesday afternoon before Judge Tim Barnack and pleaded not guilty to three counts of recklessly endangering another, being a felon in possession of a weapon and carrying a concealed weapon, attempting to elude police in a vehicle, possession of heroin, possession of methamphetamine and driving while suspended.
Barnack set the $2 million bail after questioning Remstedt about his ability to post bond, which in Oregon amounts to 10 percent of the bail amount. In this case, that would be $200,000.
Barnack stated that Remstedt, like any other suspect, is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty. But judges are required to set bail amounts before cases are resolved, he added.
"The standard is whether or not the bail is excessive," Barnack said.
When setting bail, judges consider the accused person's potential danger to the community and how likely they are to commit another crime. They also base their decision on a person's likelihood of showing up for future court proceedings, he said.
Remstedt is facing a number of charges and he also had two warrants out on him from Klamath County, Barnack said.
In most cases there are no maximum or minimum bail amounts to constrain a judge's decision. Depending on the case, a person could be released on their own recognizance, or held without bail — as is often the case when the charge is murder. Bail could be set for a few hundred dollars, or many millions, Barnack said.
"In Measure 11 cases, you have to set a minimum bail of $50,000," he said.
The $2 million is not the highest amount set by Barnack. He once set a $10 million bail on a Jessica's Law case involving a child victim. He later reduced it to $250,000 when circumstances warranted.
As a case winds its way through the justice system, bail can increase or decrease depending on circumstances, Barnack said.
If Remstedt's court-appointed attorney feels the bail is excessive, he can approach the judge and ask for a reduction. If that is denied, Remstedt's attorney can appeal the bail amount to a higher court, Barnack said.
If the Oregon Court of Appeals deems a bail amount excessive, it would return the case to Jackson County for reduction.
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