Date of Award

Summer 1997

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology & Criminal Justice


Applied Sociology

Committee Director

James A. Nolan

Committee Member

Randy R. Gainey

Committee Member

Garland White

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.S62 V36


The purpose of this study is to investigate which factors impact bail decisions made by magistrates and judges. Much of the research on this topic was done in the early 1960s and 1970s when efforts such as the Manhattan Bail Project were in full force and the decisions of magistrates had not been investigated. There has been little research which looks specifically at the effect of victim-offender relationship on the bail decision. The present research utilizes bail decisions made by judges in the General District Court of Virginia Beach, Virginia as well as Virginia Beach magistrates. The effects of offense and defendant characteristics, such as charge seriousness, prior record, use of a weapon, mental history, employment status, and victim/offender relationship on bail amounts and the "in/out" decision are measured. Analyses reveal that much of the variance in bail decisions is unexplained despite the inclusion of several legal and extra-legal variables. Use of a weapon, arrest for a violent offense and the number of charges do have significant effects on the amount of bond and whether the defendant is detained.


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