The Progress of Bail Reform in Maryland

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If you’ve been arrested and are awaiting trial in Maryland, your ability to pay your bail is what stands between you awaiting trial on the outside and you awaiting trial behind bars – big difference. Bail is intended to balance both positions. Because you are innocent unless proven guilty, it’s reasonable that you shouldn’t be imprisoned unless you are proven guilty.

The setting of bail factors your presumed innocence against the possibility that you’ll flee. The amount of bail that’s demanded should represent an amount that balances your presumed innocence with the likelihood that you won’t show up for trial. It’s a complicated but important balancing act.

The Determination of Bail

Typically, the court will take a critical look at your alleged crime, your personal history, your connections to the community, and your criminal record in determining your bail. If you are deemed a high flight risk or a danger to society, the court can deny you bail. Alternatively, the court can set a bail amount, which you must pay to await trial on the outside. If the court deems that you’re not required to pay bail, you may be released on your own recognizance.

Maryland’s Attorney General Weighs In

Bail is intended to be a financial incentive that motivates defendants to remain in the court’s jurisdiction through their trial dates. Bail is not meant to serve as punishment or as a means of keeping a defendant behind bars. Maryland’s Attorney General, Mr. Brian Frosh, recently weighed in on this subject with a letter of opinion to Maryland’s House of Delegates. In this letter, Frosh relays that the bail amounts set by Maryland courts are likely unconstitutional because they’re often higher than the defendant can possibly pay. In Frosh’s own words, (y)ou can’t imprison someone for poverty. If you can’t afford bail, you can’t afford bail – whether it’s $100 or $1,000,000.

Penalizing the Poor

AG Frosh makes the strong point that those who are impoverished are essentially penalized for their poverty. If you can’t afford your bail, your right to freedom while awaiting trial is suppressed. Frosh asserts that the courts should analyze each case individually before determining bail. After all, one person’s affordable bail is another person’s deal breaker. While AG Frosh’s letter does not rise to the level of law, it does bear weight on defense attorneys’ challenges against high bail.

If You’re Awaiting a Bail Hearing, Contact a Baltimore Criminal Defense Attorney Today

It is unconstitutional to imprison you for your inability to pay bail; protect your rights by calling criminal defense lawyer Randolph Rice of the Law Offices of Randolph Rice at (410) 694-7291 – or contact him online – for a free consultation today.


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