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Hinman Law Blog

Bail Hearings

A bail hearing occurs at arraignment, when you are formally read the charges against you that the prosecution is alleging. The state will request that the judge set bail in a certain amount. The judge will hear the prosecutor’s argument, and then your attorney will have an opportunity to argue for your release. The judge will then impose bail in a certain amount, or will release you. The purpose of bail is to ensure that you appear on your next court date. The judge will weigh several factors in setting an amount, including, but not limited, to the following:

Criminal History

One of the first things the judge and prosecutor will look at is your history with the court. If you have a lengthy criminal record, or if you have a history of not showing up to court, the judge will take this into consideration. Every time you fail to show up at a scheduled court appearance, a default shows up on your criminal record. Failure to show up for court in the past tells the judge and prosecutor that you may fail to show up again. Additionally, if you have other open cases, the judge may be less inclined to release you. In fact, if you are currently on bail in another case, and are arrested for a new crime, the prosecutor will likely ask to have your bail revoked. If the judge revokes your bail, you will be held without bail for 60 days.

Family Ties and Community Involvement

The judge will also listen to your attorney’s argument regarding your family and community ties. For this reason, it is important that you have a criminal attorney who takes the time to understand your background and family history. If you have a large family, children, a home in the area, or significant involvement in the community, it is less likely that you will flee the criminal charges. Judges tend to be more concerned if you have no reason to stay in the area—for example, if you are from another state or have no local place to live.

Employment History

The Court will also consider whether or not you are gainfully employed. This shows the Court that you fulfill your obligations, and that you have a reason to stay in the area.

History of Mental Illness or Drug Dependence

If your record or other information indicates a possible mental illness or drug dependence, the Court will likely have less faith that you will dutifully show up to court for your case. This is another situation where having an attorney explain your history can make all the difference.

Potential Penalty

The judge is also permitted to consider the potential penalty that you are facing when setting bail. For example, if you are being arraigned for a very minor crime, where the potential penalty is low, chances are you will come back to court to deal with the matter. However, if you are facing a lengthy state prison sentence, a judge may be concerned that you’d be more likely to flee the charges.

If you are released, the judge can also set certain conditions, like stay-away orders, curfews, or electronic monitoring bracelets. If the judge sets bail, you will be held until someone pays the amount on your behalf. You or the person who posted the money will get the bail back at the resolution of your case, provided you appear at each court date.

What Happens if I Cannot Make Bail?

If you are unable to pay the amount set by the judge, your attorney should immediately schedule a bail appeal before a Superior Court judge. At the bail appeal, your lawyer will have the opportunity to present an argument as to why your bail should be reduced. If you still cannot make bail after a bail reduction, or if your bail appeal is denied, the best option is to work aggressively on resolving your case without jail time so that you do not have to remain in custody.

Attorney Hinman will carefully review all of the information relevant to your arrest, and will also work hard with you and your family to provide the most relevant and helpful information to the judge on your behalf in order to ensure your release, or a low bail amount that does not keep you behind bars.

If you have been charged with a violent crime, or need assistance with a bail hearing, in Wellesley, Natick, Needham, Framingham, Quincy, Cambridge, Sudbury, Wayland, Newton, Boston, Dedham, or anywhere in Suffolk, Middlesex, or Norfolk County, contact Attorney Hinman at 617-283-4480, or by using the form to the left.