Unless you’ve had the experience of getting arrested before – which I hope you haven’t – most people are unfamiliar with how bail works. As a Norfolk County bail hearings lawyer, I’ll address here the most common concerns about bail.
To start with, bail has one purpose: To assure the defendant's appearance at court, each time, during his prosecution (which can take, in more complicated cases, up to a year to complete.) It is not in any way meant to punish people for getting arrested.
Bail comes into the picture in one or both of two environments. First, it becomes relevant immediately after someone has been arrested (almost always, at the police station where they have been brought). After booking at a police station, if you have been accused of low-level crimes (such as "simple" assault and battery and not, for example, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon or rape) you will almost always be released either on personal recognizance, or for a small fee of usually $40. The bail fee is payable by cash or check, although some police departments accept credit cards. If you are released on personal recognizance, this $40 is for the bail commissioner’s fee, as any bail commissioner is required to personally appear at a police station to set bail for persons who have been arrested.
If the bail commissioner does set bail, say at $200, the total fee would be $240, $200 of which is for your bail, and $40 of which represents the bail commissioner’s fee. This can be paid at the police department where the arrested person is being held, by either the accused himself, or by a friend or family member. Hence the phrase, getting “bailed out.” Under ideal circumstances, you or a friend or family member will have contacted a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney to meet you at the police station, before you have answered any questions put to you by police personnel. If you did not have an attorney present at the police station, then once you have been released from police custody, the first thing you should do is contact a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney, to discuss your arrest and seek competent legal counsel. At the Law Office of William D. Kickham And Associates, we make ourselves available to our clients seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Contact us for a free initial consultation by clicking here to send us an email, or call us at either Ph: (781) 320-0062, or Ph.: (617) 285-3600. We’ll get back to you as fast as possible.
The second environment where bail can come into focus is at arraignment, which takes place in the court having jurisdiction over the location where the alleged offense occurred, on the first business day after the arrest. Here, the formal charges are read against the defendant and a formal plea is entered. If you’ve been charged with a more serious crime such as drunk driving, aggravated assault & battery, drug possession, or a sex crime, then depending on the particular allegations contained in the police report, the prosecution may request a “bail hearing” at arraignment. The option to request such a hearing is the Commonwealth’s procedural right, and the defense cannot prevent it.WHAT HAPPENS AT A “BAIL HEARING”?
At this hearing, the prosecutor makes his or her legal arguments about why the judge should set higher bail – usually either because of the very serious nature of the alleged crime(s), or because the defendant represents a “flight risk.” A “flight risk” is a defendant who might “jump bail” if released prior to trial. Courts and judges need to be cognizant of the possibility in some circumstances that a defendant will deliberately “disappear” to avoid prosecution. When a prosecutor seeks a bail hearing, he or she is seeking to have a judge set bail very high, so that the defendant will not be able to meet the bail, and hence will be held in jail pending trial.
It is extremely important, if the charges against you are either very serious or if you have prior defaults (failure to appear in court,) that you be represented at arraignment by an experienced Massachusetts bail hearing attorney. Contact us for a free initial consultation by clicking here to send us an email, or call us at either Ph: (781) 320-0062, or Ph.: (617) 285-3600. We’ll get back to you as fast as possible.WHY SHOULD I HIRE AN ATTORNEY TO REPRESENT ME AT MY BAIL HEARING?
If you don’t have an attorney present at your bail hearing, the court will likely temporarily appoint a public defender who is present that day in court, to argue on your behalf at the bail hearing. Before you think that’s a good idea, you should think twice: A court-appointed attorney will only “represent” you very temporarily, for the limited purpose of the bail hearing only. He or she will have met you for perhaps a few minutes prior to the hearing, will know next to nothing about you, and very likely will not have adequate time to review the full facts of your case or your personal history prior to the hearing. They are often very preoccupied with the permanent clients that they have been assigned. In many cases, if a public defender represents you at a bail hearing, it will be the first and last time you see him or her. They are not invested in the outcome of the hearing, and have no professional or ethical responsibilities to you after that hearing.
Obviously, this is not a situation we believe any defendant should opt for. It’s a far wiser course to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney from the Law Offices of William D. Kickham. We are experienced in all aspects of bail hearings and criminal defense. Sometimes, clients come to us because they’ve defaulted (failed to appear in court previously when they were supposed to) and they’re afraid of what to do next. When a defendant defaults on a court date, a default warrant is issued for his arrest, which goes to Police Departments around Massachusetts and the rest of the country. It would be extremely foolish for any defendant who has defaulted on a court date, to simply ‘show up’ in court or at a police station without an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Often times, we have negotiated with the particular District Attorney’s office involved to allow our client to appear in court without being taken into custody and locked in jail. Sometimes clients will occasionally "forget" to mention to us that they’ve in fact defaulted on a court case previously. Many people think that by later appearing in court and paying a default removal fee, they can “erase” the previous default. Sorry, but it doesn’t work this way. Prior defaults can and will be used against you because they demonstrate that you previously failed to appear in court as promised, regardless of the fact that you later paid a default removal fee. The bottom line: Always tell your attorney the full story.
At a bail hearing, District Court judges have many factors to take into consideration when setting bail. A very partial sample of the factors that must be taken into consideration when a judge considers bail are:
- Nature and circumstances of the offense. With assault and battery cases, for example, the judge may consider the relationship between the victim and the defendant. The judge will consider whether the alleged assault and battery involved any domestic violence
- Family Ties. If you have close, substantial family relationships, it can persuade a judge to release you on lower bail.
- Employment. If a defendant has held a job for a considerable period of time, this indicates that you are likely to return to court and are not a flight risk.
- Length of Residence. It’s quite true to say that a defendant who has been living here in Massachusetts, at the same address, for most of his life is much more likely to return to court and not 'jump bail,' than is someone who has not lived at the same address in the state for a very long time. This is an important distinction that the judge takes into consideration.
- Prior Court Defaults. Do you have a record of prior offenses or arrests? If you have even one default on a prior case, and you have not appeared in court when required to, prosecutors will leap on this fact and argue for very high bail. Obviously, it helps your case tremendously when defaults are not an issue.
District Court judges are required to state their reasons for setting the bail that they order. Sometimes a judge will set bail at an unreasonably high amount. Clients have often come to us when such a situation arises, and we have successfully appealed the District judge’s bail decision to a Superior Court judge. This is done in a separate judicial proceeding in the Superior Court called a “Bail Review,” and we have been very successful in either having bail eliminated entirely for many of our clients, or getting a far lower bail set. Being successful at removing bail altogether or substantially lowering it takes experience, expertise, and a fighting attitude on the part of your attorney. Do not hire any attorney to advocate for you at a bail hearing or a bail review unless that attorney has years of successful experience and a successful track record to prove it.
That’s why it pays to hire an experienced Massachusetts bail review attorney He or she will know how to articulate the best legal arguments possible to maximize the chances that the court does not set an unreasonably high bail (or perhaps any bail) and argue that you should be released on personal recognizance.MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE IN YOUR MASSACHUSETTS BAIL HEARINGS ATTORNEY
Don’t make a serious mistake in your choice of bail hearing attorney. Hire the wrong lawyer, and you very possibly may end up being held in jail. Our team of attorneys is skilled and experienced in all aspects of bail hearings. We know what we are doing in this area of law, because we are experts in the field of Massachusetts criminal defense, and our case results show it. Our clients have access to us around the clock, not just “9 to 5.” Our phone lines are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so you can reach us whenever you need to. Clients and friends know us for a lot of very positive things, but the most important is this: We obtain the best legal outcome possible for our clients.
We know that selecting an attorney or law firm in matters like bail hearings is a serious decision, and we try to take out as much of the stress as possible: We offer a free initial consultation, whether by phone, in-office, or even traveling to meet you at your home or office.
Contact us for a free initial consultation by clicking here to send us an email, or call us at either Ph: (781) 320-0062, or Ph.: (617) 285-3600. We’ll get back to you as fast as possible.
Westwood and Boston, Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer William D. Kickham has appeared as a legal analyst on a variety of respected media, including Court TV (now In Session on HLN,) Fox News TV-25/Boston, The Boston Herald, WBZ-AM Radio 1030, WCVB-TV5/Boston, Nightside With Dan Rea, Greater Boston With Emily Rooney, Money Matters Radio/Boston, and The Metro Newspaper/Boston. Attorney William D. Kickham is turned to by respected reporters and media organizations in Massachusetts as an authoritative expert in the field of criminal defense law, and the case results he produces for his clients attest to this. Call us today at Ph.: (781) 320-0062, or Ph.: (617) 285-3600, to arrange for a free initial consultation of your case. If the matter is not an emergency, you can email us here for a free initial consult and we will respond to you very promptly.