If you or someone you know is arrested, one of the first things to deal with is bail. In fact, a hearing for bail will be scheduled in front of a judge within 24-48 hours of arrest. The hearing is a formal meeting with the judge assigned to the case. Because of the format and language of the hearing, it is imperative that the defendant asserts his or her right to be represented by an Ohio criminal defense attorney at the hearing.
Why is Bail Important?
Bail is the conditions on which an arrested person can be released from jail or custody. For a short video explaining bail, you may click the following link: Frequently Asked Questions About Bail.
Being released on bail is a very important step in the judicial process because not only can it get you out of jail to be with family and to work, but it also plays a big role in a defense. Developing a criminal defense strategy is very difficult to do from jail due to lack of access to internet, contact information, private phone calls, and a general lack of freedom to move about. The Prosecutor’s office has access to all the above resources along with an army of officers to gather information from anyone connected to the case. Being out on bail allows the defendant access to his or her attorney, and that can make all the difference in the outcome of the case.
How is Bail determined?
The judge uses the following criteria to determine if bail is granted and the amount.
- Can the defendant be trusted to return to court or is he/she a flight risk?
- Can the defendant be trusted to abide by the law while out on bail?
- Can the defendant be trusted to avoid contact with potential witnesses to the case?
- Can the defendant be trusted to follow the rules of release, such as following a curfew, travel restrictions, or drug testing.
Hiring a defense attorney lets the judge know there is a professional point-of-contact for the defendant, which means they will have a better chance of being released on bail. An experienced Ohio criminal defense attorney can also set the tone from the beginning that the defendant is a trustworthy person who has stake in a resolution for the case and is therefore likely to attend all court appearances.
How Much Does Bail Cost?
All of the factors above play into the likelihood of a reasonable bail being set. The judge will make the final decision as to whether or not the defendant is released on bail and what the conditions will be. He or she will base the amount of bail upon observations at the hearing.
- If the judge feels the defendant is not trustworthy to meet the aforementioned criteria, the bail could be set very high ranging from $1,000 to over $1,000,000 depending on the charges and allegations. Bail can vary greatly by county within the same state.
- The average person may have to contact a bail bondsman and make a deposit securing a bond guaranteeing the defendants appearance at future hearings. The defendant will typically have to deposit 10% with the bail bondsman.
- If the judge feels as though the community can be kept safe and the defendant can meet the above guidelines, he or she may set a very low bail amount.
- An experienced defense attorney can set a motion to reduce the amount of bail or request that the defendant be released on their own recognizance (O.R.).
- In the case of an O.R. release, there is no payment necessary, and the defendant simply has to sign a contract agreeing they will attend required appearances.
It is important to find the resources to make bail if at all possible. This will give an attorney better access to the defendant during their investigatory work in formulating a defense for the case.
Common Guidelines to Meet While on Bail
Once bail is made, a probation officer will be assigned to the case. The probation officer will require regular check-ins, which may be in person or by phone. In addition, there will be several other rules to follow. It is
- Curfew – Most courts will set a curfew for the defendant of something like 10PM. Defendants out on bail should not be found outside their home or work after the curfew.
- Travel – Most courts will restrict travel out of state and/or county in which the alleged crime occurred even if it is not your place of residence.
- Communication – Defendants can be taken back into custody if they communicate with the accuser if applicable, or witnesses.
- Random Search – The defendant out on bail agrees to the random search of their residence, belongings, and vehicle by police as a condition of bail. If prohibited items are found, the defendant can be taken back into custody, and additional charges can be filed.
- Drug Testing – Should your probation officer call you in for a drug test, you will usually have 24 hours or less to report. Failure to do so can result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.
- Compliance with Law – All other laws are expected to be followed. It’s important to be careful and observant when driving, traveling, or socializing.
How Can an Attorney Help with Bail?
You should expect your Delaware, Ohio criminal defense attorney to communicate and be with you at your first appearance before the judge. An experienced defense attorney will request a reduction in terms of bail amount and provide your loved ones with a list of bail bondsman if desired. The attorney’s office can also reach out to your employer and provide information that may allow you to keep your job through this process. Most importantly, an experienced criminal defense attorney wants their client to make bail because it is better for the case. Making bail will greatly improve the odds of an experienced attorney obtaining a favorable outcome for you, your family, your future.
If you or someone you know needs more information about making bail, please view this short video, Frequently Asked Questions About Bail, and contact an experienced Delaware, Ohio criminal defense attorney today.