How Does a Wife Bail Her Husband Out of Jail in Baltimore?

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Few things are as traumatic as ending up in jail. A police officer may have arrested you for drunk driving, a street brawl, or a more serious offense. The first night you spend in jail is a shock to the system. One of the first things you will want to know is when you can get out. Family members are often the first people you turn to for help. In this post, we consider how does a wife bail her husband out of jail in Baltimore.

At the Rice, Murtha & Psoras, our defense team helps people who are arrested and thrown in jail. Talk to a Baltimore bail bonds lawyer as early as possible in the criminal process for advice on getting out of jail.

How Does the Bail System Work in Baltimore?

Baltimore is a big city with high levels of violent crime. The 348 homicides the city recorded in 2019 was the second-highest figure in Baltimore’s history. Officials are unlikely to grant bail to the most violent offenders, but the courts routinely grant bail for lower-level offenses of violence like assaults as well as larceny offenses or DUIs. However, the sheer volume of offenses places the courts under extreme pressure. It’s important to understand how the bail system works in Baltimore so as you can be released as soon as possible. When a commissioner grants you bail in Baltimore, you can leave jail and go home for something in return.

All defendants have initial appearances before a commissioner, who is not a judge and does not have to be a lawyer. The commissioner explains the implications of the charge and potential penalties if the defendant fails to show up at a subsequent court appearance. The defendant has the legal right to wait to see a district court judge, either later on the same day or the next day. If you have been arrested for a serious felony, the commissioner may deny you bail or set an extortionate amount. Your Baltimore criminal defense lawyer can see a bail hearing in front of a judge to dispute the decision or the high bail amount.

A wife can bail her husband out of jail in Baltimore in the following ways:

Pay a Cash Bond

A commissioner sets cash bonds for amounts of $2,500 or less. A wife or her husband can typically secure release by posting 10 percent of the bail amount. Anyone over 18 years of age can co-sign a cash bail bond. If a husband fails to appear for a subsequent scheduled court appearance his wife as a co-signer can be liable to pay the full bail amount.

Cash bonds are usually used for misdemeanor offenses. These have lower bail amounts. Cash bail is controversial, leading more states to enact reforms in recent years. In addition to the questionable assumption that suspects who can find cash to put down are more reliable or less dangerous than those without access to cash, The Atlantic noted the system reinforces and exacerbates inequities in the criminal justice system.

In 2017, the Maryland Court of Appeals signaled a retreat from cash bail in the state. The justices supported a rule change that instructs judicial officers to impose the “least onerous” conditions of pretrial release on defendants who are not a flight risk or a danger to public safety.

Pay a Property Bond

In rare cases, a defendant of a family member can use property rather than money to secure a bond. Property bonds may be used when the defendant or a family member lacks the cash to make bail. The owner or owners of a property must present an affidavit agreeing to use an asset like a home or a car as bail collateral. If a family home is jointly owned by the husband, who is a defendant, and his wife, they must both sign the affidavit. The equity value of property must at least equal the bail amount.

The agreement allows the court to enforce a lien, collect the property or foreclose if the defendant fails to show up to all hearings of the court. The lien is released at the end of the case of the defendant attends all hearings.

Cash Surety Bonds

If the defendant can’t afford the bail amount and has no collateral for a property bond, a bail bond agent can forward the money to the court to secure the defendant’s release from jail.  The defendant or a co-signor such as his wife can enter an agreement with a bail bond agent to put up money as a surety. The money is a guarantee that the defendant will appear in court. 

Bail bonds agents charge a non-refundable fee of 10 percent of the bail amount. The accused, his wife, another family member or a friend usually has to pay the 10 percent upfront. If the defendant doesn’t show up for a court appearance, the bail bondsmen must pay the full bail amount and then collects the remaining 90 percent from the defendant or a co-signor.

In some cases, a wife may not need to bail her husband out of jail.

Personal Recognizance

Personal recognizance is now used more often in Baltimore. This means no bail is set and no money needs to be paid. Commissioners often decide on this option for non-violent defendants with little or no criminal history. First time DUI offenders with a clean record are likely to be dealt with by personal recognizance. A Baltimore DUI defense lawyer can help in these cases. The defendant must also have a connection to the community such as a local address.

How Can a Wife Bail her Husband out of Jail in Baltimore?

Bail is a fairly straightforward process but it doesn’t always seem that way to family members who are upset about their loved one’s arrest. The criminal justice process can seem confusing and intimidating.

A defendant is initially booked into jail. The booking process can last about two hours, depending on where the defendant is booked in Baltimore. A judicial commissioner determines if probable cause exists to charge you. When the commissioner sets bail, the defendant can post the amount in cash, request the help of a co-signer, or contact a bail bondsman, assuming the commissioner set bail. The whole process can be started by phone from jail or with the help of the co-signer.

If you are posting property as a bond you will need to provide documentation including tax bills, assessment notices, a copy of a recorded deed or other public records. Talk to the court clerk about what you need. According to Maryland Courts, only a clerk of the court can accept intangible assets; a commissioner may not.

Should a Wife Use a Lawyer To Bail her Husband out of Jail in Baltimore?

You don’t have to hire a lawyer to secure bail in Baltimore but it may make the process more seamless and take the stress away. A criminal defense lawyer will handle bail arrangements and represent a defendant at a bail hearing if the cash bail amount or the need for bail is disputed. By hiring an attorney you can let the lawyer do the legal work and support your family member during a traumatic time. It gives wives, girlfriends or other family members and friends greater peace of mind.

Talk to the Rice, Murtha & Psoras About Bail

Attorney Randolph Rice has worked in Baltimore’s courts for over a decade as a Baltimore County criminal defense lawyer. He worked in the Baltimore State Attorney’s office as an Assistant State’s Attorney before that. He has a close working knowledge of the city’s court and can help you with bail issues. Please contact us for a free consultation as soon as possible at (410) 431-0911.

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