Family members often help their loved ones get out of jail. They may pay bail or hire a bonds agent. A grandparent can sometimes bail their grandchild out of jail in Baltimore.
Bail is a complicated process. The authorities release many defendants without bail. Some are released on condition that they show up at their next hearing with no requirement to pay money. Baltimore criminal defense attorney Randolph Rice considers ‘can a grandparent bail their grandchild out of jail in Baltimore?’
What to Consider When You Bail Your Grandchild Out of Jail in Baltimore
Grandparents are very protective of their grandkids, even when they become adults. They may panic when they get a call from their grandchild in the jail and immediately want to help out. Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center is a tough place to spend even one night behind bars.
Grandparents should be aware of the many scammers who prey on elderly people by pretending to be a grandchild in jail. Always verify your grandchild has been locked up with the authorities or deal with a lawyer. You should make bail payments directly through the court or deal with a reputable bondsman. The court will never ask you to buy gift cards. Find out more about the grandparent scam from AARP. The nonprofit for older people warns grandparents have lost thousands of dollars through scams.
It’s also prudent to talk to your grandchild’s parents, assuming you are in contact. It’s better for a family to work together at times of crisis such as the arrest or incarceration of a loved one in Baltimore. A parent is often the first person a young suspect contacts after their arrest.
Will Your Grandchild Be Asked to Pay Cash Bail After a Baltimore Arrest?
When your grandchild is arrested in Baltimore he or she will likely be brought before a district court commissioner. Commissioners are judicial officers, appointed by the Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland. The Maryland Courts website states there are over 279 District Court commissioners in the state, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
They review the statement of charges to determine probable cause existed for your arrest, consider pre-trial release, and determine whether the accused qualifies for a public defender.
Pre-trial release means the commissioner considers whether bail is applicable in your grandchild’s case. The options open to the commissioner are the following:
Personal recognizance is the best option a young defendant can hope for. More defendants are being released without conditions now in Maryland. This means the commissioner sets no bail. No money needs to be paid. Commissioners often opt to release non-violent defendants who don’t have previous convictions on personal recognizance. The defendant should have a connection to the community such as a local address and relatives in the Baltimore area.
Payment of a Cash Bond
Commissioners set cash bonds of $2,500 or less. Maryland enacted bail bond reforms in recent years, signaling a retreat from the controversial system that penalized low-income defendants. Commissioners usually set cash bonds for misdemeanors. A grandparent who wants to bail their grandchild out of jail in Baltimore can typically secure their release by posting 10 percent of the set bond amount. The grandparent is liable to pay the full bail amount if their grandchild fails to show up for a court appearance associated with the offense.
Cash bail may penalize low-income defendants who have no relatives to help them out. A rule imposed in Maryland in 2017, requires judges and commissioners to consider non-financial alternatives to cash bonds such as community-based pretrial services. No court official should set an amount that a defendant cannot afford. In 2018, The Baltimore Sun reported about one-fifth of defendants were being held in jail because they could not afford bail, down from 40 percent before the reforms. About 53 percent of suspects who appear before a bail commissioner are released from custody, up from 44 percent before the reforms.
Payment of a Property Bond
A defendant or a family member can use property rather than money to secure a bond. This is a relatively rare practice in Maryland. The property owners must present an affidavit agreeing to use an asset such as a home as bail collateral. The equity value of the property must at least equal the bail amount. If a grandparent agrees to use property as collateral he or she must be prepared to lose the asset if their grandchild fails to keep a scheduled court appearance.
Use of a Bail Bond Agent
Defendants who cannot afford to make a cash bond sometimes use a bail bond agent. Bail bondsmen forward the money needed to release the defendant to the court. They charge a non-refundable fee of 10 percent. A family member such as a spouse, a parent or a grandparent may pay the 10 percent upfront. If the defendant fails to show up to court or meet other bail conditions, the bail bondsman has to pay the full bail amount to the court and collect the remaining 90 percent from the defendant or from a family member such as a grandparent.
Denial of Bail
Commissioners deny bail for many reasons. If the defendant stands accused of a serious felony such as murder, bail may be rejected or set at very high levels. Repeat offenders and people who are a known flight risk are also likely to remain incarcerated. Commissioners typically deny bail to people who will pose a threat to others if the courts release them.
Defendants have a legal right to see a district court judge, either later that day or the next day if a commissioner denies bail or sets a very high amount. Your criminal defense lawyer can argue your case at a bail hearing.
Some reports suggest Maryland’s cash bail reforms increased the number of defendants who are released without a bail condition. But it also led to more bail denials meaning the number of people held in cells is similar to before the reforms in 2017.
Bail is not used in the federal justice system, although defendants may be released into the community on electronic monitoring. The Maryland juvenile justice system does not use bail either.
Talk to an Experienced Baltimore Criminal Defense Attorney About Bail
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our Baltimore juvenile crimes attorney has spent more than a decade helping defendants in Baltimore’s courts. Talk to him about bail and representing your family member at a bail hearing. It’s important to act fast and to hire an attorney if your grandchild is being held in a cell. Incarceration for any period of time is detrimental to young people. Please contact us online or call us at (410) 431-0911 for a free consultation.