If you have been arrested and charged with a crime such as assault and battery, larceny, or operating a motor vehicle under the influence, you may be released on bail or personal recognizance following your arrest. Bail is typically set for defendants during their arraignments.
When determining whether to set bail for a defendant and at what amount, the court will set an amount it believes is needed to ensure the defendant will return to court on his or her next court date. For first offenses and some misdemeanors, the prosecutors may ask for a small bail amount or may not seek bail at all. The more serious the crime, the higher the amount of bail may be. Additionally, when a person fails to appear at a court date, they are said to have "defaulted" on that court appearance. A defendant with a history of defaults is likely to have a high bail amount set because the judge may believe that the defendant will fail to appear for his or her next court date. Many people think that by showing up in court and paying the default removal fee, they have erased the past default. However, paying for a default does not erase the default from your record. The court will still take those defaults into account when determining a bail amount. Since the purpose of bail is to ensure that the defendant shows up in court for the trial, the defendant forfeits the bail that he or she posted if they fail to appear for his or her next court date.
During a bail hearing, the prosecutors will give the facts of the case and the reasons why they believe bail is necessary and what amount they believe is appropriate. The defense attorney will then give his reasons that bail is not necessary in this case or will request a low bail amount. A Massachusetts bail attorney can explain to the court that the defendant has lived in the community for a long time, is heavily involved in local organizations, and has a job or family in the local community. These factors make it less likely that a defendant may run away or fail to appear at his or her next court date.
Also at a bail hearing the court can set conditions of release essentially putting a defendant on supervised probation before his or her case has ever been decided. It is important to have an attorney assess any situation involving conditions of release to ensure that the conditions do not present an onerous burden on a defendant while he or she fights to clear their name.
An experienced Massachusetts bail attorney can make an argument on your behalf to have your bail set at an affordable amount. Often, an attorney can even convince the judge to release you on your own recognizance. Having a high bail amount can cause a great amount of strain to you and your family. It often means having to come up with a large sum of money in order to leave jail. If the bail amount is too high to afford, you will have to stay in jail between the arraignment and your next court date, which is often months away. The court will decide your next court date during the arraignment.
If you or a loved one needs an experienced Massachusetts bail attorney, contact Attorney Cappetta today for a free consultation.