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You Have A Right To Representation At Bail Hearings. Make Sure You’re Well-Defended.

Your bail hearing is the difference between going home – and staying in jail until your case is heard by the court.

Defend yourself from a year or more in jail with help from The Law Office of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC, where we make sure the commissioners and judges consider the whole story before ruling on your case.

How Does Bail Work In Maryland?

After someone is arrested for an alleged crime, they have the right to be seen by a Maryland court commissioner within 24 hours of the arrest. The commissioner looks at the case to see if they can be let go until the court date or need to be kept in jail.

Often minor criminal offenses – such as misdemeanors – are allowed to go free with a written notice of their court date. Those accused of more severe felony crimes are usually not released and must await their hearing before a commissioner.

It is the commissioner who decides whether to offer someone “bail.” Bail is an amount of money that the accused – or someone on behalf of the accused – pays the court in exchange for letting them out of jail until the court date.

The bail amount is usually established based on the accused previous criminal record (or lack thereof) and the crime that was alleged.

There are several different types of bail that a commissioner can allow, including:

  • Cash bail, where the accused or someone on their behalf pays the entire amount immediately;
  • Surety bail, where a bail bond agency or “bondsman” pays the bail in exchange for a fee from the defendant – often 10% of the total bail; and
  • Property bonds, where the accused or someone on their behalf puts up a piece of property equal to the value of the bail in exchange for their release until their court date.

The court keeps the bail for the duration of the accused’s trial. It’s basically collateral to ensure that the accused shows up for all required appearances, even if they’re freed from jail in the meantime.

Can Everyone Get Bail?

No, not everyone can get bail in Maryland.

There are many circumstances where a Maryland commissioner will deny bail or otherwise set too high a bail for the average defendant to pay – especially if their criminal defense attorney isn’t there to help the commissioner understand the full story and context of the charges.

Specifically, those accused of very serious felonies such as murder can find themselves unable to bail themselves out.

Those who the commissioner considers to be a “flight risk” may also have bail denied them.

For example, if a wealthy business owner with many international contacts is accused of embezzlement, then a commissioner may think that the accused can simply charter a plane to fly overseas to a country without an extradition treaty.

For a real-world example of flight risk, consider Ghislaine Maxwell, the defendant in a highly publicized federal child trafficking case. She was denied bail in July 2020 by a federal judge.

In her statement, the judge said Maxwell “had demonstrated a sophisticated ability to hide herself and obscure her financial resources.” These and other contradictions to the court made the judge rule that Maxwell “poses a substantial actual risk of flight” before trial.

Therefore, she remained in federal custody until her trial.

What Happens If Someone Is Denied Bail?

If the accused is denied bail or otherwise have too high a bail amount to pay, then they have the legal right to see a District Court judge, either later that day or the next. They will not be released until that occurs, unless they post bail in the (high) amount set by the commissioner.

Requesting for a District Court judge to overrule the commissioner’s set bail (or lack thereof) can be very risky to attempt without excellent criminal defense attorneys experienced in bail reviews.

If the accused takes the chance on getting a better deal with a judge and they strike out, then they’ll be stuck in jail for quite a while. Some criminal trials are scheduled a year or more out from the initial arrest. The defendant would be in jail until the trial was completed.

It takes a very experienced attorney to know what the chances are for a defendant to receive a bail from a District Court judge if bail was denied by a commissioner or set very high.

Many times, defendants want to take a chance and try to get the bail reduced because the commissioner set it high. Sometimes that turns out to be a mistake, because the District Court judge can deny bail altogether!

Is Bail Money Returned To The Defendant?

Bail money can be returned to the individual who posts it – depending on the type of bail paid and how the trial proceeded.

  • Cash bails can be repaid to the poster in their entirety once the entire trial is concluded. Regardless of the verdict, if the accused has fulfilled the terms of the bond and shown up to all required court meetings, then the poster gets their money back.
  • Surety bails are not repaid – at least, not to the accused on whose behalf bail was posted. The bondsman’s fee that was originally paid when the bail was posted – about 10% of the total bond – is non-refundable. In this way, the bondsman is paid for managing the accused’s court appearances, and is held responsible if the accused breaks the terms of their bond.
  • Property bonds are held in surety by the court. Like cash bonds, the court can possess the property if the accused on whose behalf the property was offered breaks bail.

Bails can be broken if the accused doesn’t attend court as promised, gets arrested for another crime while out on bail, and for breaking any of the other conditions set per the original bail agreement.

Remember, the bail is the Maryland court’s surety that the accused will show up to the trial without needing to be put in jail.

If someone doesn’t show or break other terms of the bail, then they forfeit the right to the money or property.

What Can Criminal Defense Lawyers Do At Bail Hearings?

Every accused individual has the right for their criminal defense attorney to attend their bail hearing. However, due to the nature of these hearings, they can occur at any time of the day or night.

Getting a criminal defense attorney in the room when bail is initially set (or denied) by the commissioner can be the difference between an accused going home or going to jail.

While that’s the best shot for an accused to get the best deal, criminal defense attorneys can also help in the cases of denied or exorbitant bail. They can:

  • Request a preliminary hearing in ten or less days, at which time a good lawyer can convince the judge to issue bail
  • Request an additional bail review due to extenuating circumstances
  • File a habeas corpus petition on behalf of their client, in which the lawyer (plausibly) claims their client is being illegally detained

Of course, this requires a criminal defense team to know your personal situation and the facts of the case, so they can best argue for your bail at any given time.

Take advantage of free consultations from reputable criminal defense firms to find your legal champion who will stand up to commissioners, judges, and entire court rooms on your behalf.

“The judge put a warrant out for my arrest and held me without bail [because] of the prison time I was backing out. My wife went right to Crawford’s office. Right away, he filed a motion to get me a bail review and argue the ‘no bail status.’ Well, at my bail review, he was able to argue to the court and get me released on my own [recognizance].”

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