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What To Expect At A Bail Hearing

Bail HearingBefore appearing in court, it can be helpful to understand what the purpose of a hearing will be, who will and can be present, what specific issues will be addressed and what is expected of you as a defendant. Knowing what to expect ahead of time can make the process less stressful and also help you be more prepared for the hearing.

What is a Bail Hearing?

A bail hearing is a court process in which a judge will determine whether or not to allow a defendant to post bail and be released from jail for the duration of his or her trial.

What Is The Purpose Of A Bail Hearing?

The purpose is for the court to inquire into the likelihood of the defendant reappearing at his or her criminal trial.  This hearing also sets the exact amount of the bail which will be required, if granted.  Evidence may be presented by the defendant and the decision is ultimately made by the court.

Who Is Present At A Bail Hearing?

Typically, a judge presides over the court decision and a jury's presence is not needed. The defendant will be present, along with the defense attorney (if an attorney is being used). Spectators are also generally welcome to appear.

What Determines The Outcome Of A Bail Hearing?

A judge will consider many factors when making a decision whether or not to allow bail, and when determining the amount.  Some examples of what the judge will consider include:

  • Personal character and history
  • Financial resources and employment
  • The nature of the alleged crime
  • Past criminal history and court appearnaces
  • Family ties and length of residence within the community

It is the responsibility of the defendant and his or her attorney to provide evidence of the above factors. If the bail hearing is not the first in the course of the trial, it is important to demonstrate new facts and evidence upon which the judge can issue a new decision.

What Are The Possible Outcomes Of The Court's Decision?

The court may approve the bail request with specific conditions that must be met for the defendant to remain out of custody. These conditions are often regarding employment requirements, travel limitations, drug and alcohol testing, psychiatric treatment or periodic meetings with an officer to check-in. The judge may also deny bail based on the evidence presented or lack thereof. In this case, the defendant and his or her attorney may appeal the decision in a higher court

Bail hearings are a fairly straightforward process and receiving a favorable ruling depends a great deal on the degree of preparation, the defendant’s history with the court, and the success of the defense lawyer.

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