Defendant's Right to a Bail Review
One of the first Court events that a Defendant is involved in is the Bail Review Hearing. The purpose of the Bail Review Hearing is to present information to the Judge, both from the State and the Defense, on the subject of the Defendant's bail. Prior to the Bail Review, a Commissioner will have made a preliminary determination as to bail. It can range from "No Bail," which, as it sounds, means that the Defendant cannot be released for any amount of money, to "Own Recognizance" which means that the Defendant will be released without any monetary requirement. Between these two extremes, a bail can be in any amount of money. Obviously, the more serious the alleged crime and the attendant circumstances, as well as the Defendant's criminal background, the higher the bail will be. At the Bail Review Hearing, the Judge will determine whether the bail that was set should be raised, lowered or kept at the same level. The Defense, in an effort to have the bail reduced or removed altogether, will present evidence as to the Defendant's good character, home life stability, family connections in Maryland, why he or she is unlikely to flee the State, and other information that will give the Court confidence that the Defendant will appear in Court when his trial date arrives. The State, on the other hand, will present evidence as to the seriousness of the crime, the Defendant's prior record (if any), why he or she is likely to try and run, etc. It will be up to the Judge to weigh both sides and make the final decision. There are other special considerations that can play a role in the Court's determination as to bail. Maryland offers a home-detention arrangement, commonly referred to as being "on the box." This is a system where the Defendant will be required to remain in one location, usually the home, and will be electronically monitored, at all times. This option is often a way for a Defendant to get out of jail while he or she awaits trial, while giving the State confidence that the Defendant is still under "the watchful eye" of law enforcement. There are other such options that can be negotiated and/or argued in an effort to get the defendant out of custody while preparing for trial.
The Bail Review Hearing is an important event that can make a huge difference in how a Defendant prepares for his or her trial. If he or she can be released, there will be much greater client participation in the preperation of the case for trial. In addition, the Defendant will be in a much better frame of mind, more optimistic, healthier, and in an overall superior condition to assist the lawyer in defending the case.