Not all people who are arrested in Maryland remain behind bars. Many are released under a process called bail. This can be confusing for first-time offenders. It’s useful to know how bail bonds work in Baltimore, Maryland.
At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, our attorney will help you with every stage of the process if a police officer arrests you in Baltimore. Baltimore bail bonds hearing lawyer Randolph Rice sheds light on the bail bonds system in this article.
Types of Bail Bonds in Baltimore, MD
When a judge or a commissioner grants bail to a defendant you are released and allowed to go home in exchange for something in return. For many offenses this is cash but it could be something else like a commitment to a pre-trial program such as attendance at a substance abuse clinic. The court has many powers and could even place a lien on your property. The defendant must return to court at a certain date and may have to meet other conditions to comply with bail.
There are different types of bail bonds available in Baltimore.
Cash bonds remain the most common type of bond in the United States, although some states are retreating from their use amid concerns they penalize impoverished defendants. In 2017, Maryland’s attorney general said cash bail violates the constitutional rights of the poor, leading to a retreat in its use. The accused is released on condition he on she pays money or a friend or a family member pays for the release. The entire amount of money must be paid pre-release. The defendant gets the money back at the end of the process if all court appearances are met. If the accused fails to show up for a court hearing, the money is not returned. The bond is discharged if the defendant is found not guilty or when a defendant is convicted.
Defendants don’t always have the money to pay a bond. In these cases, they can use a bail bondsman. The bail bonds agent pays the full bail amount if the defendant or a co-signer can pay a small percentage of the bail amount to the bondsman. If the defendant skips out on the court, the bond agent has to pay the fee to the court and recover it from the defendant. If the defendant appears in court, the bond money is returned to the bondsman. The defendant does not receive any money back.
Unsecured and Own Recognizance Bonds
Unsecured and own recognizance (O.R) bonds are widely used for people accused of misdemeanors. Maryland’s bail reforms caused a shift from cash bonds to unsecured bonds in recent years. Maryland Reporter noted the number of people held on cash bonds declined from 35 percent to 14 percent from 2017 to 2018. Unsecured bonds are often used for less serious misdemeanor charges or on certain first offenses. OR release is no-cost bail. The courts release defendants on their own recognizance. However, the usual conditions apply. The defendant must sign a written promise to appear in court on a required date. A judge can place conditions on a defendant’s release such as places he or she cannot go, curfews, or prohibitions on certain behavior. The defendant may be released on the condition that he or she enrolls in a pre-trial intervention program. The defendant must complete every step in the program and does not have to pay anything to be released from custody.
The use of property bonds is rare in Maryland. If a defendant has committed a serious misdemeanor or a felony and has failed to appear or is a flight risk, a judge or a commissioner may impose a property bond. These bonds are only used when a defendant has real estate assets. The judge can order the defendant to put up property as collateral. The agreement allows the court to enforce a lien, foreclose, or collect the take the property if the defendant fails to show up to a hearing. The lien is released at the end of the case.
Will You Be Granted Bail in Baltimore?
People who are arrested in Maryland are taken before district commissioners who decide whether they should be charged and whether bail should be set, states Maryland Courts. The police can hold you for up to 24 hours before bringing charges. In very serious cases, the police can request extensions.
Being arrested in Baltimore is a traumatic experience, particularly as a first-time arrestee. Getting out of a cell is the first priority of many defendants. Although most defendants are released, there is no guarantee you will be bailed. Commissioners look at seven pertinent factors to decide whether you should be released and, if so, under what conditions. They are:
- The seriousness of the offense
- The past criminal record of the accused
- The flight risk of the person held in custody
- Your financial circumstances
- The recommendations of the prosecutor and the defense lawyer
- Whether the release could endanger the defendant
- Risks to the victim and the wider community
What Happens at a Bail Hearing?
If you believe the bail set in your case is unreasonable, your Baltimore criminal defense lawyer can request a bail hearing before a judge. Although some factors relevant to your alleged crime may be discussed it is not your trial. It’s not your opportunity to tell the judge whether you are guilty or not guilty. You should not talk about the facts of your case in a bail hearing.
Your attorney will outline to the judge facts relevant to the issues of bail. They include the seriousness or otherwise of offenses; your finances, your prior criminal history record; your standing in the community, your flight risk, your likelihood of committing another offense while released, any recommendations provided by an agency, and any safety concerns related to yourself or others. It’s important to hire an experienced Baltimore bail bonds attorney before the hearing. Defendants also have a right to be represented by a public defender.
Talk to an Experienced Baltimore Bail Bonds Attorney Today
Bail can be very confusing. In the past many low-income defendants who struggled to understand the system ended up languishing in cells longer than they should have done. Cash bail in the United States is becoming increasingly controversial in the wake of legal challenges. Many jurisdictions are seeking alternatives. It’s important to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest to safeguard your rights and increase your chances of being released from jail as soon as possible. Randolph Rice is a former District Attorney who has worked on behalf of the accused for more than 10 years. He is familiar with all of the workings of the criminal courts in and around Baltimore. Please contact us as soon as possible after an arrest at (410) 431-0911.