When someone has been arrested on felony charges that cannot be heard in District Court at that time, that person has certain rights under the constitution, one of which is the right to a preliminary hearing that determines if there will be a bail amount set, or whether the person should be released on their own recognizance.
Simply put, a bail hearing represents the difference between what may be a months long wait for that felony case to be heard by the court, or going home and enjoying relative freedom until that time. Having a competent attorney who is well versed in criminal legal defense and the bail hearing process is the first step in successfully petitioning for release until the criminal case is heard.
What Is the Difference Between Bail and Bond?
To the common observer, the terms “bail” and “bond” are interchangeable terms that describe the monies paid to secure the freedom of a person accused of a serious crime until their day in court.
This is a fallacy, and the difference between the two terms is a crucial one for someone who is seeking to gain their freedom after being arrested on suspicion of a felony crime. Depending on the seriousness of the offense, this amount may be prohibitively high, high enough that the defendant cannot post it.
In this event, a bond may be secured and posted on behalf of the defendant, usually by a company who specializes in providing bail bonds. It should be noted that this money is not part of the punitive process, but rather a way of guaranteeing the person will appear when their case comes before the court.
Should the defendant fail to appear, or violate any of the terms laid out in the bail agreement, they would then forfeit the bail or bond and be taken into custody immediately. Bail is the money a defendant must pay to be released from custody until their court date.
Since this amount can be prohibitively high, a bond may be secured and posted on behalf of the defendant, usually by a company who specializes in providing bail bonds. The amount of the bail will be determined by a bail hearing.
How Does a Bail Hearing Work?
A defendant has the constitutionally guaranteed right to be seen for a bail hearing by a court commissioner within 24 hours of their arrest. The commissioner will examine the particulars of the case, and decide whether the accused should be permitted to post bail and be free until their court date.
Among the factors considered by the commissioner will be the previous criminal record of the defendant, their financial resources, their character and connection to the community, and of course, the details of the case. The defendant’s lawyer must present facts and evidence, and argue the case for the accused being released on their own recognizance, or for a bail amount.
In the event of the most serious accusations like murder, or if the person represents a risk to themselves, someone else, the general public or in the case of a significant flight risk, bail can be denied or set too high for even the most generous of bail bondsmen or companies.
In the event that bail is granted, it will take one of several forms, including:
- Cash bail – where the entirety of the bail amount is paid to secure the freedom of the defendant.
- Surety Bail – where a bond agency pays the full amount after the defendant puts up a nonrefundable 10% of the total bail amount.
- Property Bonds – where a property of equal or greater value than the bail amount is leveraged against the bail amount.
If the monetary amount has been met, the defendant may be released until their court date, but their release may also be contingent on conditions such as a psychiatric treatment, curfew, mandatory drug and alcohol testing, maintaining a job, or travel and/or weapons restrictions.
What to Do When Bail Has Been Denied
For the most part if bail has been denied or the prohibitively high amount of bail has not been reduced, a defendant does have the legal right to be seen by a District Court judge when a day or so of the denial. They must remain in custody until they are seen or until they are able to post bail.
This is an extremely risky move, and should only be attempted under counsel of an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney.
If bail has been set prohibitively high, and the defendant petitions a judge to reconsider, the petition runs the risk of being denied as well, most likely leading to revocation of bail altogether. This is where a good lawyer comes into play, because they should be able calculate the probability of a petition to District Court Judge being successful and advise for or against doing so.
How to Have the Best Chance of Being Granted Bail
The best chance of being granted not just bail, but an affordable bail lies in the services of a good criminal defense lawyer. While bail hearings tend to be a very direct process, a favorable ruling depends for the most part, on preparation, and the expertise of quality legal representation.
A bail hearing can literally determine whether a person accused of a felony spends the next few months or as much as a year or more waiting for their case to come to trial.
Call Jezic & Moyse First When Your Freedom is At Stake
It is the right of a defendant to have a lawyer of their choosing to defend them and to advocate for their freedom. When your freedom is on the line, you want the experience and expansive legal knowledge of Jezic & Moyse, Attorneys at Law in your corner.
An Example of What Jezic & Moyse Can Do for You
One of our lawyers handled a bond review on 11/13/2020. The details of the case allege that after a legal search of an apartment turned up $100,000 in cash and two kilos of cocaine, a suspect was taken into custody. Andres, one of the fine criminal defense attorneys with Jezic and Moyse was able to secure a $5,000 unsecured bond, and the client was released the same day.
Call Jezic & Moyse today, and let our legal team secure your freedom today!