My two colleagues provided very good responses, but I thought I would attempt to add some additional information as well. The Judge will often look at whether a defendant has had prior fail to appears (FTA), or missed court dates, in the past, and will often consider prior FTA's in setting a bail. Even if a prior case was eventually dismissed there may be a FTA history attached with those cases that could result in a higher bail. Another consideration is ties to the community, including whether or not the defendant is homeless/transient. If there are indications the defendant has no real place to live, especially when paired with indications of current or previous drug use, the court may have concerns with future appearance and locating the defendant if there is a future FTA. If your sister-in-law already had an attorney argue for a lower bail and was denied, it is likely the bail will remain the same absent some compelling reason to modify it in the future.
Jeff Holmes - Attorney at Law - www.vancouverdefense.com - 360.975.9288. Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. This information is based on general principles of law, as well as my general experience that may or may not relate to your specific situation. This information is not meant to take the place of actually consulting an Attorney in your jurisdiction. If you would like legal advice, I would recommend consulting an attorney in your locale.
The bail amount sounds absurd, but truthfully not all that surprising. Courts are supposed to limit the bail consideration to prior history, failures to appear for court, and the dangerousness of the allegations. Unfortunately, bail hearings are sometimes treated like sentencings, and the bail amount looks more like punishment for the accusations than a reasonable amount set to ensure appearance at future dates.
The bail can be reconsidered again by the court once a lawyer is on board and he or she can put together a compelling argument for why it should be lowered. It may also be worth at least considering a motion to remove the judge who set this bail.
That does seem high for a residential burglary. Not much information in your post so anything I come up with for a reason would be pure speculation. Motions for bail reduction should be done carefully and thoroughly, because once denied, you need a change in circumstances to bring another motion. You can't just keep putting it on the docket and ask for the same thing over and over without any justification. Your sister-in-law definitely needs a good attorney.
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