(Sometimes) Getting Out of Jail Free
It’s very difficult to mount an effective defense if the defendant remains in jail. Many people accept unfavorable plea bargains just to end things quickly. On a closely related note, since prosecutors know there is little or no risk of a trial, they often do not offer favorable plea bargain agreements. So, the Eighth Amendment guarantees reasonable bail in criminal cases.
Quick jail release is often available. But that’s not always the case. So, a Port St. Lucie criminal attorney must often work hard to secure pretrial release. Jail release is also obviously important for personal purposes. People who are behind bars often lose their jobs and suffer other consequences.
Initial Release Options
The cash bail/bail bond system, which is outlined below, has come under fire recently. Some states, like California, are in the process of abolishing this system. Bail is still an option in St. Lucie County, and there may be another way as well.
If the defendant was charged with a nonviolent misdemeanor, like marijuana possession, OR (Own Recognizance) pretrial release might be available. The defendant promises to appear at trial, and the sheriff releases the defendant. Some conditions, such as staying out of trouble with the law, usually also apply.
These conditions are even more prevalent in cash bail and bail bond release. Common conditions include reporting to the bail bond office on a regular basis, remaining within the county, and furnishing any updates employment or contact information.
Money is probably the biggest condition in cash bail release. Generally, the sheriff sets presumptive bail amounts depending on the severity of the offense and the defendant’s criminal record.
Alternatively, a bail bond may be available. Bail bonds are essentially insurance policies which guarantee the defendant’s appearance at trial. The issuing company assumes all the risk. Typically, most companies charge a 10 or 15 percent premium to deliver surety bonds to the jail.
Arraignments and Bail Reduction Hearings
In many situations, OR release is unavailable, probably due to the nature of the offense. And, for many families, a few hundred dollars might as well be a few million dollars. Finally, the sheriff only sets presumed bail amounts in certain cases.
Fortunately, an attorney can seek a bail reduction. These hearings usually take place during the arraignment. That’s when the court informs defendants of the charges against them. Police officers are not legally required to tell defendants the charges when they arrest them. But that’s the subject of another blog.
At a bail reduction hearing, the judge considers a wide array of factors which relate to the defendant’s future appearance at trial, such as:
- Amount of evidence the state has,
- Defendant’s connection to the community,
- Any threat to the community or specific individuals,
- Defendant’s ability to travel, and
- The severity of the offense.
Frequently, bail reduction matters settle out of court. For example, the prosecutor might agree to reduce or set bail if the defendant agrees to additional bail conditions, such as electronic monitoring.
Team Up with an Assertive Lawyer
Jail release jumpstarts a successful defense. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.