Bail and release on one’s own recognizance (OR) are important parts of the criminal justice system, providing an accused person with the opportunity to be released from custody while awaiting their court date. While they may seem simple on the surface, there are a number of complexities that come into play when it comes to determining the conditions for release.
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What Is Bail?
When someone is arrested and taken into custody, they may be offered bail as a way to be released from jail until their trial. The purpose of bail is twofold: first, it allows those accused of crimes a fair chance to prepare for their upcoming trial in freedom rather than from behind bars.
Secondly, it serves as an incentive for them to return for their trial by ensuring that they have something to lose if they do not show up on time. If the defendant does not appear in court, the bail may be forfeited to the court.
How Is Bail Amount Determined?
The bail amount is typically determined by the severity of the crime. For less severe crimes, the bail amount might be just a few hundred dollars, or you could be released on your own recognizance (more on this possibility below). For more serious crimes, the bail amount could be in the tens of thousands of dollars. In some cases, the bail amount might even be set at $1 million or more. For some crimes, bail is not set, and an accused must remain in custody until they are found not guilty of their charges.
Another factor that can influence the bail amount is the defendant’s criminal history. If the defendant has a history of criminal activity, the bail amount is likely to be higher. Additionally, the bail amount is influenced by whether the defendant is considered a flight risk. If there is a concern that the defendant will flee before trial, the bail amount will be higher.
What If You Can’t Afford Bail?
If you or someone you know cannot afford bail, there are still options available. The first thing you should do is hire an attorney who specializes in criminal defense law; they may be able to work with prosecutors and judges to reduce your bail amount or secure other forms of release, such as house arrest or ankle monitoring devices. The first step they can take is to get a bail hearing scheduled.
What Is a Bail Hearing?
A bail hearing is a court proceeding that determines whether someone accused of a crime should remain in jail or be released until their trial. This is an important process, as it can have a huge impact on the outcome of the case.
What Happens During a Bail Hearing?
During a bail hearing, both the defense and prosecution present arguments for why the judge should set (or not set) bail for the accused person and argue as to what that amount should be. The defendant’s attorney will typically argue that their client is not a flight risk, has strong ties to the community, and poses no danger to society if released on bail.
The prosecution may argue that the defendant is still dangerous or could use their release from jail as an opportunity to flee town before trial. After both sides have presented their arguments, the judge will make a decision about whether or not to set bail and how much it should be.
Being Released on Your Own Recognizance
Being released on your own recognizance means that you are released from custody without having to post bail. This typically happens when the judge believes that you are not a flight risk and will return to court for your scheduled appearances. If granted release on your own recognizance status, an individual won’t have to pay bail and can instead stay free while awaiting trial.
Who Gets Released on Own Recognizance?
Decisions about who gets released on their own recognizance are left up to the discretion of judges when criminal cases are brought before them. In order to qualify for release on their own recognizance, individuals must generally demonstrate that they pose no risk of danger to themselves or anyone else and that they are not a flight risk. Other conditions, such as prior criminal records and the type of alleged offense, may also be taken into consideration.
Oftentimes people with clean criminal backgrounds who have been arrested for minor offenses might qualify for release on their own recognizance so long as they fulfill any obligations set forth by the court. Additionally, those who present a financial hardship may also be eligible for OR status. Ultimately, it is up to a judge’s discretion when deciding whether an individual should be granted OR status.
Contact an Experienced West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer To Help With Your Case
If you have questions or need help following an arrest or the arrest of a loved one, Contact us today to schedule a free consultation at DiCindio Law, our West Chester criminal defense attorney is here to help by calling (610) 430-3535.