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Understanding Bail

Posted by attorney Steven Topazio

Bail is a method to get the defendant home during the trial proceedings. It is not a period of time to argue the merits of the case. Bail is an amount of money used by the court to ensure the defendant comes back to court when required to do so. There are typically two factors the judge considers before setting bail. Any bail argument by the defense attorney must address both parts:

  1. Is the defendant a danger to the community?
  2. What is the likelihood the defendant will flee?

In order to get bail reduced the defense attorney should do the following:

  1. Demonstrate the potential crime is not one that the defendant would do again
  2. Demonstrate the defendant is not a danger to the community
  3. Demonstrate the defendant presents no likelihood to flee. The defense attorney can present this in various ways: - Character references - Community support - Stable employment history - Memberships in religious or civic organizations - Surrendering the defendant's passport - Agree to electronic monitoring

The court can present several bail release options. These may include:

  1. Cash Bail. The defendant is responsible for paying the entire amount of bail to be released. The defendant will receive his bail back at the completion of all court appearances.
  2. Release On Own Recognizance. If the judge is convinced the defendant is not a risk, he may release the defendant on his own recognizance.
  3. Surety Bond. The bail agent guarantees to the court that they are responsible for the bond if the defendant fails to appear.
  4. Property Bond. The court records a lien on the property of the defendant to secure the bail amount.

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