If you have been arrested and charged with a crime such as drunk driving, assault, drug possession, or other crimes, then depending on the severity of the charges and the circumstance surrounding your case, you may be released on bail in between your arraignment and the actual trial. For first offenses and more minor crimes, bail may not be an issue. But for more serious crimes and if there is any suspicion that the defendant will not appear in court, the judge may set higher bail.
Since the purpose of bail is to ensure that the defendant shows up in court for the trial, the defendant forfeits the money they (or their friend or relative) posted as bail if they fail to appear. A default warrant is also issued if the defendant does not return for their court dates.
What happens during a bail hearing?
During a bail hearing, the District Attorney will enumerate the reasons why bail might be appropriate for this case. For instance, if the person has defaulted on court appearances in the past or if they do not have strong ties to that community, then those two factors are both considered reasons for setting bail. If, on the other hand, the person has lived in the community for decades, is heavily involved in local organizations, and has a job and/or family in the local area, then it's considered less likely that the person will try to run away. The more serious the crime, the more likely there is to be higher bail, because there is more at stake for the defendant.
Since the United States justice system considers defendants innocent before proven guilty, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. However, after the prosecution makes their case, the defendant's attorney might argue that the defendant has already shown up every time or that they have a stake in the local community and are unlikely to flee. The judge is supposed to consider all of these reasons and set bail accordingly.
One of the issues that we sometimes see is that clients will occasionally "forget" to mention to their attorney that they have had a default warrant in the past. Many people think that by showing up in court and paying the default removal fee, they have erased the past default. But, unfortunately, this is not the case. Past defaults can be held against you because they show that you have a history of failing to appear in court, even though you later showed up. It's best to tell your attorney the whole story so that they can craft an effective argument based on all of the facts.
Why should an attorney from Altman & Altman be present at my bail hearing?
If you do not hire an attorney for your bail hearing, in most cases the court will appoint one. This court-appointed attorney may only be there to argue at your bail hearing and probably hasn't had adequate time to review your case prior to the hearing. In many cases, these attorneys see their clients for the first time when they arrive in court.
Obviously, this isn't the ideal situation for any defendant, and that's why it's smart to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney from Altman & Altman. Our skilled team of attorneys is experienced in all aspect of criminal defense. In some cases, clients comes to us after defaulting on a court date, and we are able to negotiate with the District Attorney so that our clients can appear in court without getting locked up in the interim. For these clients, hiring an attorney and agreeing to appear in court shows the judge that they understand the seriousness of the charges and they are being proactive in resolving them.
All of our clients appreciate the fact that we are accessible around the clock. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so they can reach us whenever they need to. With over fifty years of combined experience and solid track record in criminal defense, we are known for attaining the best possible outcomes for our clients.
The lawyers at Altman & Altman understand that choosing legal counsel is a weighty decision, so we offer a free initial phone or office consultation on all new cases so that clients can make an informed choice. Contact our Greater Boston bail hearing attorneys to discuss your case. In addition to Boston and Cambridge, we all serve clients throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.