Despite being known as the “Land of the Free,” the United States is the most incarcerated nation in the world. According to recent estimates, more than two million Americans are incarcerated. Many of these individuals are being held in custody before they have even gone to trial. If you or a loved one is in jail awaiting trial, the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy can help. Patrick Murphy is an experienced Boston criminal defense attorney who skillfully handles bail hearings on behalf of clients charged with all types of crimes. He will do everything possible to get you out of jail so you can fight your case from the street.What Is the Purpose of Bail?
When someone is arrested for a crime, the government has an interest in ensuring that they show up for their court dates. To encourage defendants to come to court, judges can require them to post a certain amount of money to secure their release. The idea is that someone is more likely to appear in court if there is a financial consequence of failing to do so.
The purpose of bail is not to keep people in jail before they go to trial. However, historically, bail has been used to keep many individuals—who are innocent until proven guilty—incarcerated leading up to their trial.What Goes into a Court’s Decision to Set Bail?
A judge overseeing a criminal case has the ability to modify bail. However, under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, bail cannot be excessive. Generally speaking, there are two main considerations when setting bail: the likelihood the defendant will appear in court and the danger the defendant poses to the community. More specifically, Boston judges consider the following when setting a defendant’s bail:
- The severity of the crime the defendant is facing;
- A defendant’s flight risk;
- Whether a defendant is on probation or parole;
- Whether a defendant has ties to the community;
- A defendant’s prior failures to appear at court;
- Whether the defendant is employed; and
- A defendant’s criminal record.
Once a judge sets bail, you must pay the bail to secure your release. If you can’t afford bail, you will remain in custody until trial. This not only denies you your freedom when you are still presumed to be innocent, but it also affects your ability to defend your case. For example, it is more difficult to talk with your lawyer, gather evidence, and prove to the judge that you are a contributing member of society if you are locked up.The Importance of a Bail Hearing
Shortly after you are arrested, a magistrate will set your bail. However, once the magistrate sets bail, a judge can later modify the magistrate’s decision in a subsequent bail hearing.
While bail may seem straightforward, that is rarely the case. Judges walk a fine line when making bail decisions, balancing concerns on both sides. On one hand, judges are aware of the harms of over-incarceration, especially on People of Color. On the other hand, judges don’t want to reduce a defendant’s bail only to have them fail to appear or commit a crime. An experienced Boston criminal defense attorney will understand the most effective way to explain to the judge that you are not a flight risk or a danger to the community.Are You Being Held in Custody While Awaiting Trial?
If you are facing criminal charges and cannot afford to post bail, reach out to the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy for immediate assistance. Patrick Murphy is a respected Boston defense attorney who has secured the pre-trial release of countless clients. He understands how to ease a judge’s concerns during a bail hearing and, in some cases, can even get the prosecutor to agree to a reduction in bail or pre-trial release. To learn more about how Attorney Murphy can help you get out of jail while you wait for your trial date, call (617) 367-0450 to schedule a free consultation.