Bail is generally set at the accused’s preliminary arraignment, which will usually occur hours after the arrest. The terms of bail can vary from being released on one’s own recognizance (ROR) or Sign On Bond (SOB) all the way up to $1,000,000 or defendants being held without bail.
In Philadelphia, defendants are generally required to post ten percent of their bail amount in order to be released. If the defendant abides by the conditions of bail, a percentage of the money is returned at the end of the case. In Philadelphia, 70% of the money will be returned no sooner than 31 days after the final court date. Alternatively, defendants can use a bail bonds company, which will charge a non-refundable fee for posting bail on behalf of the accused.
The number at which bail is set can mean the difference between a defendant fighting their case from the streets or from a jail cell. When things are happening fast, family, friends, and other loved ones might not have the time or means to hire an attorney before the preliminary arraignment. If an attorney was retained, she or he may not have had adequate time to gather the evidence necessary to argue for the lowest possible bail.
So, what do you do now?
You can book an appointment with this firm to discuss bail matters. A skilled attorney can make one or more motions for bail reduction on behalf of the defendant. In Philadelphia, motions for bail reduction can be made at almost every hearing date. The judge will consider a number of factors in determining whether to reduce bail.
Here is the relevant statutory language from 234 Pa. Code § 523:
(A) To determine whether to release a defendant, and what conditions, if any, to impose, the bail authority shall consider all available information as that information is relevant to the defendant’s appearance or nonappearance at subsequent proceedings, or compliance or noncompliance with the conditions of the bail bond, including information about:
- the nature of the offense charged and any mitigating or aggravating factors that may bear upon the likelihood of conviction and possible penalty;
- the defendant’s employment status and history, and financial condition;
- the nature of the defendant’s family relationships;
- the length and nature of the defendant’s residence in the community, and any past residences;
- the defendant’s age, character, reputation, mental condition, and whether addicted to alcohol or drugs;
- if the defendant has previously been released on bail, whether he or she appeared as required and complied with the conditions of the bail bond;
- whether the defendant has any record of flight to avoid arrest or prosecution, or of escape or attempted escape;
- the defendant’s prior criminal record;
- any use of false identification; and
- any other factors relevant to whether the defendant will appear as required and comply with the conditions of the bail bond.
(B) The decision of a defendant not to admit culpability or not to assist in an investigation shall not be a reason to impose additional or more restrictive conditions of bail on the defendant.
What’s important to note is that the defendant must provide the judge with evidence and sound legal arguments for why her or his bail should be reduced. That is where a knowledgeable and skilled attorney becomes so important.
You should contact a law firm such as Stephen Stewart Law immediately to discuss your options. If you reach out to Philadelphia Attorney Stephen Stewart for a free initial consultation, he will be able to provide a confidential evaluation of your case. Call 215-650-6500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.