When bail is set, it is not locked in. If your loved one is unable to post bail or if the bail you have posted has caused a financial burden, you may be able to have it lowered at a bail review hearing.
What Is Bail?
Bail is money used to guarantee that a person who has been arrested will appear in court to answer the charges. When you post bail, you are essentially making a deposit that assures your appearance in court.
If you appear in court as required, you get the money back when your case is concluded even if you are found guilty. If you fail to appear for court, you may forfeit or give up the bail that you posted.
What Is a Bail Review?
A bail review is a judicial hearing to determine whether the initial bail amount is still appropriate. Bail may be reviewed at several times.
- Within 24 hours or the next business day after the initial bail determination if you are denied bail or cannot post bail and remain in custody
- When you obtain an attorney
- After a preliminary hearing
- Upon request if your circumstances have changed since bail was set
What Factors Does a Judge Consider at a Bail Review?
Maryland law sets out a list of factors that a judge will consider when setting bail. A change in bail is generally appropriate when one or more of these items has either changed or was not considered by the judge or commissioner who set the current bail amount.
- The nature of the charges including the severity, the potential sentence, and the strength of the evidence
- Your attendance record for court appearances in the current case and prior cases
- Your family and community ties to the State of Maryland, employment status, and reputation in the community that make it likely that you will return to court to answer the charges against you
- The recommendation of Pre-Trial Services and/or Office of the State’s Attorney
- Information provided by you or your attorney
- Whether you pose a danger to the victim, yourself, or any other person
- Any other factor that may affect the risk of you failing to appear in court
The law also says no one should remain in jail simply because they cannot afford bail. If you cannot afford the bail set, it may be unreasonable by law.
What Are the Possible Outcomes of a Bail Review?
After a bail review hearing, the judge may lower bail, raise bail or leave the bail unchanged. You will generally know before the hearing if the purpose is to discuss an increase or a decrease in bail. A judge should not increase your bail simply because you asked to lower it.
Common reasons for bail increases include:
- You missed court
- You picked up an additional charge
- The State’s case got significantly stronger due to additional evidence or new witnesses.
Common reasons for bail decreases include:
- The commissioner did not consider all circumstances when initially setting bail
- The preliminary hearing or other pre-trial motions show that the evidence against you is weak
- Some charges are reduced or dismissed leaving only lesser charges open
- The bail amount is unreasonably unaffordable.
How a Towson Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help at a Bail Review
A bail review is strictly a legal determination about whether the rules for setting bail were followed or whether the circumstances have changed. It is not the time for arguing the facts of the case or determining whether you are innocent. In fact, anything you say about the case could be used against you at trial.
For these reasons, you should exercise your right to remain silent and allow your attorney to argue the law. If you wish to present evidence, your attorney can help determine if it is appropriate for a bail review and present it in a way that does not jeopardize your right to remain silent.
To get help with bail that was set too high, schedule a consultation with a Baltimore County criminal defense attorney today.