The Constitution’s Eighth Amendment gets a lot of attention, mostly for its prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. This provision prohibits excessive bail in criminal cases. For hundreds of years, the bail system has applied to both state and federal crimes. But can you bail out on federal or State charges? In this post, we’ll discuss your options for pretrial release.
Why Is Pretrial Release Important?
Pretrial release is important for a number of reasons. People who are behind bars cannot work to support their families and spend time with loved ones. Defendants who remain incarcerated cannot participate in their own defense in any meaningful way. Furthermore, incarcerated people often feel pressured to take unfavorable plea deals just to “get it over with.”
Pretrial Release Options in Criminal Cases
When authorities arrest people on criminal charges like federal or state drug possession or trafficking, the bond is usually set a presumptive bail amount. This amount usually depends on the severity of the offense and the defendant’s criminal history.
All forms of release are usually conditional. Some common conditions include reporting to a bail or bond officer, remaining in the county, and avoiding further trouble with the law. Here are some options that may be available to you:
Cash bail is essentially like a security deposit that guarantees the defendant’s appearance at trial. The presumptive bail amount is usually several thousand dollars in most felony cases. The good news is that, once the case is resolved, the person posting bail gets most of that money back. The bad news is that, for most people, several thousand dollars might as well be several million dollars.
A bail bond may be a good option in these situations. A bonding company delivers a surety bond, which is much like an insurance policy to the jailers. The jailers then release the defendant. The bail bond premium is usually 10 or 15 percent of the total bail amount.
Own Recognizance (OR) Release or Personal Recognizance (PR) Release
Many people have criticized the bail system in recent years, because many jails contain more unsentenced inmates than sentenced ones. In most cases, unsentenced people simply do not have the money to post bail or a bail bond.
Pretrial release is usually available in federal cases and also be available in state cases. Note, however that Personal Recognizance release is usually only available to defendants charged with non-violent crimes and have no prior record.
Bail Reduction Hearing
If PR release is not an option and bail is prohibitively expensive, all is not lost. A criminal defense attorney can set the stage for pretrial release at a bail reduction hearing. At this hearing, which usually takes place at the arraignment, the judge can reset bail according to a number of other factors, such as:
- The defendant’s threat to the community, if any
- Severity of the offense
- Defendant’s ties to the community (e.g. job and family)
- Amount of evidence against the defendant
- Defendant’s ability to pay
Many times, an attorney and the prosecutor agree on a bail reduction package. For example, the prosecutor may agree to a lower amount if the defendant agrees to wear an ankle monitor.
Work with an Aggressive Attorney
Pretrial release jump-starts your defense. To schedule a consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Dallas, TX, contact Abrams Trial Law today.