According to the 8th Amendment of the United States constitution, “Excessive bail shall not be required.” [for individuals charged and pending trial for crimes]. Because all people charged with crimes are innocent until proven guilty, the innocent people should have an opportunity to remain free until their trial and are actually proven guilty.
Of course, the courts and the prosecutor don’t want you fleeing to Switzerland or some other country to avoid prosecution. That’s where bail comes in.
Maryland Bail: What it is
Maryland Bail is essentially a pledge or a promise of money, property, or other items of value that is put forward in exchange for the promise that the person charged with the crime will appear in court for their court date. Maryland Bail may be posted by a friend, family member, a bail bondsmen, or the person charged (if they can make the arrangements for the goods to be collateralized)
Maryland Bail: How it is set
There are several steps to getting bail. First, when you are charged with a Maryland crime, you are taken before a Court Commissioner. Read more about them here. The commissioner either releases you pending trial without any conditions, can set pretrial conditions, or can set a bail (up to no bail). See Md. Rule 4-213 through 217.
After the initial appearance before a commissioner, you have an automatic right to a bail review before a District Court judge. Again, the judge can raise, lower, or abolish the bail sent in the case. Finally, if you are charged with a felony, you have the right to petition for two things in Circuit Court. First, a Writ of Habeas Corpus to “appeal” the District Court Judge’s decision immediately. Second, you may have a bail review de novo (of new) in the Circuit Court. Again, the judge may lower, abolish, or raise the bail set below.
Maryland Bail: the factors
Commissioners and judges are supposed to look at several factors when determining bail and they can be found in Maryland Rule 4-216:
- Nature and circumstances of the crime charged (e.g. a murder suspect is much less likely to receive any bail than a Marijuana suspect)
- Prior record
- Ties to the community (family, job, residency history, etc)
- Danger to victim
- Danger to him/herself
- Input from the State, Pre-trial investigator, and of course your ENlawyer
Maryland Bail: The bottom line
Understand that obtaining a reasonable Maryland bail, while guaranteed by the constitution of the United States, is sometimes difficult to obtain. Maryland recognizes the importance of having a qualified Maryland lawyer with you during every bail review stage, from the commissioner to the circuit court. A Maryland lawyer can help you navigate the bail review process and make certain that the arguments being made are being heard by the judge.
For example, if you are charged with certain crimes or are on probation for certain crimes, only a judge can release you on any type of bail. In addition to any possible bail, it is important to have a lawyer who has contacts with bail bondsmen and home monitoring services to secure your release. If you or a loved one is charged with a crime in Maryland, be sure to call your favorite ENlawyers.