Bail and Bond Information
Because freedom isn't always free...
Although the Constitutions of both the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provide that "reasonable bail" must be set after a person is arrested, often times the criteria used to set a bail amount is ignored by the initial arraignment court.
Unless bail is prohibited by law (such as in cases of first-degree murder), every person accused of a crime has the right to have bail set at a reasonable amount after due consideration of criteria which have been established by the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Because bail eligibility and the types of bail which can be set by the court can be confusing, we have reviewed some of the important bail considerations below. Please feel free to familiarize yourself with the various issues surrounding bail and let us know how we can help your loved one!
Types of Bail which may be set by the Court
While most people are aware that the right to bail exists, did you know that there are different types of bail? Under Pennsylvania law, there are five different types of bail which the court may impose.
Release On Recognizance (ROR): Release conditioned only upon the defendant’s written agreement to appear when required and to comply with the conditions of the bail bond - essentially, the court takes your "good word" alone as a promise to return for future court proceedings.
Release on Nonmonetary Conditions: Release conditioned upon the defendant’s agreement to comply with any conditions which the court determines are reasonably necessary to ensure the defendant’s appearance and compliance with the conditions of the bail bond.
Release on Unsecured Bail Bond: This is release conditioned upon the defendant’s agreement to be liable for a fixed sum of money if he or she fails to appear as required or fails to comply with the conditions of the bail bond. No money or other form of security is deposited - however, if the defendant doesn't appear as ordered, they are responsible for payment of the amount indicated by the court.
Release on Nominal Bail: Release conditioned upon the defendant’s depositing a nominal amount of cash which the bail authority determines is sufficient security for the defendant’s release, such as $1.00, and the agreement of a designated person, organization, or bail agency to act as surety (guarantor) for the defendant.
Release on a Monetary Condition: Release conditioned upon the defendant’s compliance with a monetary condition, i.e., you must pay a set amount to be released from jail prior to trial. By law, the amount of the monetary condition shall not be greater than is necessary to reasonably ensure the defendant’s appearance and compliance with the conditions of the bail bond.
Where the Right to Bail Comes From
The right to reasonable bail stems from the very documents which have created the law in our country. Indeed, the Constitutions of both the United States and Pennsylvania provide for bail to be set for nearly all criminal defendants!
"Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."
- United States Constitution, 8th Amendment
"All prisoners shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, unless for capital offenses or for offenses for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment or unless no condition or combination of conditions other than imprisonment will reasonably assure the safety of any person and the community when the proof is evident or presumption great."
- Pennsylvania Constitution, Art, 4, Sec. 14
How does the Court decide Bail and Can Bail be Denied?
Unlike a trial, bail hearings aren't meant to argue the facts of the case. The only issue being decided is whether to let the defendant out of jail. When setting bail, the courts are required to examine several key criteria which is set forth in the Rules of Criminal Procedure. Elements such as the type of case, severity of the charges, prior arrest record and any previous bail issues are balanced against qualities such as the defendant's employment, contacts in the community, family situation, medical condition, and many other facts which could show whether or not someone is likely to return for trial if they are released from jail.
Sometimes, the court can deny bail. A denial of bail is generally reserved for situations where the criminal charges are either a capital offense or a charge where life imprisonment could be imposed, cases where the defendant is a danger to another person or the community as a whole, and situations where the defendant has shown that he or she is a flight risk, i.e., they are likely not to return for trial if they are released from jail.
“I was falsely accused of a terrible crime (sexual assault), and even though I didn't do it, the court set my bail so high that I didn't think I could ever get out of jail! Daffner & Associates got my bond lowered to non-monetary and I was able to get out so I could assist them in defending my case and I was found innocent after trial. I would highly recommend this firm for anything you need!"
Todd L., former client
Did you know that bail can be REVOKED? If someone violates a condition of their bond, fails to appear at a court proceeding, or commits a new offense, bail can be revoked by the court and the defendant will be committed to the jail until further proceedings! We have helped many clients have their bond reinstated or transferred after it has been revoked - if this is the situation you're in, please contact us immediately!