Written by attorney Edward D. Dowling IV

Arraignment, Release on Own Recognizance, Bail

Arraignment on the charge(s) occurs shortly after arrest and is when you are brought before a judge to enter a plea ( usually you should always plead not guilty at this beginning stage of the criminal proceeding. If you already have an attorney ( many times you do not since there was not time after arrest to contact an attorney ) usually the attorney will " waive the public reading of the charges’ and plead not guilty and request that you be " Released on Your Own Recognizance ( ROR )" until the next court date. This means you are free to go until the next court date. If the judge denies the request for ROR ( usually if it is a more serious misdemeanor or felony and/or if you have a prior record of conviction of crimes, or if believes you are a " Flight Risk “- likely to not show up on the next court date ) then the attorney will make “an application to be Released on Bail." The purpose of setting Bail is to ensure that the defendant ( arrested person ) will return to court.

Bail can either be " Cash or a Bond." If it is by bond this usually means that the person posting Bail pays about 10 % of the bond amount and the " Bail Bondsman " issues a bond for the amount of bail. Also if it is a bond the total bail is usually two times ( or more ) what the amount of bail would be if it was just cash bail. With cash bail the person posting bail must pay the full amount of the bail. Thus if the amount of cash bail set is higher than the person posting the bail can afford, then usually a bond is obtained. If the defendant appears in court for all court dates then when the case is concluded, the person posting bail will receive their money back in full. But if the defendant does not make all court appearances ( this is called “Bail Jumping “ ) then the person posting bail “Forfeits " the bail and does not receive their money back. This is why the person posting bail is usually a family member or good friend that trusts that the defendant will appear for all court appearances since they run the risk of not getting their money back.

When making the application for ROR or Bail the defense attorney usually tries to portray the defendant in the most positive light and establish that the defendant is not a “flight risk" and will make all court appearances. The attorney usually mentions the positive aspects of the defendant’s background, family life, whether married and has children or not, stable employment history, hopefully no prior criminal record or at least not serious prior convictions and hopefully not recently, and any other positive " ties to the community “ that will establish that defendant has every reason to remain in the community and appear for all court appearances and has no reason to flee from the court’s jurisdiction.

Watch for other articles on Criminal Law and other Topics of Civil Law in the future.

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