If you are arrested by the law enforcm department on a criminal offence, you have the right to get released on bail while the trial is proceeding. This ensures that a person who is wrongfully accused or arrested does not have his or her freedoms curtailed by the law enforcement agencies. Every person has the right to receive bail until a court verdict is announced for their case.
In most cases, the court lays down certain conditions that the defendant must abide by in order to get bail. They are required to appear in court and be available for questioningementby the crime investigation authority. Their movements may be restricted and the defendant may be required to stay away from certain persons or activities.
Defendants are also required to submit a surety bond – a sort of guarantee – that they will abide by the bail conditions.
While bail is almost always granted by the courts, the prosecution may challenge the bail in certain special circumstances and the defendant may be denied bail in such cases.
Getting Bail ensures that you won’t have to spend time in jail. Regardless of the type of release order issued by the court however, the defendant’s release from the arresting authority is always subject to certain conditions.
A bail condition is a type of legal requirement or restriction placed on the defendant. If you are getting released on bail, you must follow the conditions in letter and spirit. If the defendant fails to fulfill any conditions, their bail can be cancelled by the court.
Some bail conditions require the accused to perform a state mandated action, like go into a drug rehabilitation program. Some conditions require the defendant to refrain from action, like stay away from certain individuals or observe curfew between certain hours.
VIOLATION OF BAIL CONDITIONS
Failure to follow bail conditions will result in an immediate arrest and cancellation of the bail. The defendant can also be charged with a new offence known as the breach of a court order. The accused may no longer be eligible for bail in such cases and must remain in custody for the duration of the trial.
Here’s an example of how a bail condition can be violated.
Restriction on contact is one of the most common conditions for an accused person getting bail. In this case, the defendant must not have any contact with a witness or victim of the offence, directly or indirectly.
The court generally sets a radius from the person’s home or workplace and the defendant needs to stay out of this area. The defendant must also not try to communicate with the restricted person directly or send a message to them through any acquaintance.
Sometimes, it can be difficult for the accused person to fulfill this condition, especially if they are in a domestic partnership with the victim or witness. Even if the restricted person initiates the contact, the accused can be arrested for violating the bail terms.
Under these circumstances, the accused person must take positive actions to avoid contact with the victim or witness. If the defendant comes into the vicinity of the restricted person by chance, they must leave the area immediately.
Suppose you have a bail condition where you are required to stay away from Mary Sue. You are out shopping at the mall and see her enter the shop. You are required to leave the mall without talking to her. Even if you don’t talk to her but stay in the mall and continue your shopping, you can be arrested and your bail can get cancelled.
COMMON BAIL CONDITIONS
The judge overseeing the case has the discretion to set any bail conditions that they see fit for bail. Most courts are lenient about giving bail unless the accused has a history of criminal offences or the crime is of a violent nature.
Common types of bail conditions include the following.
- The accused must reside at a particular address.
- The person must not commit any further crimes or get arrested for breach of law.
- The accused must not become a threat to community safety if they are allowed to go free on bail.
- The defendant living at a particular address may not leave that place without notifying or getting permission from concerned authority. This is called a detention bail.
- The person may be restricted from contacting certain people or getting in close proximity to them. Restricted people generally include victims and witnesses in a case.
- The defendant may be required to report to a police station on their whereabouts regularly.
- The person may be asked to surrender their passport.
- One common condition is to promise to pay money to the Court if any other condition of the bail is breached by the defendant.
- The person may be restricted from carrying, possessing, buying or displaying firearms.
- The defendant may be prohibited from consuming alcohol or drugs.
- The accused may be subjected to random drugs and/or alcohol tests without prior notice.
- The defendant must provide suitable guarantors i.e. people who guarantee that the defendant will attend court and will comply with the terms of the bail agreement.
- The defendant must submit a bail bond or guarantee money at the court to ensure compliance with bail conditions.
- The accused may be assigned a Community Corrections Officer / Home Detention Officer for supervision.
- The person may be subjected to taking specific classes or undergo correctional therapy.
DOES THE DEFENDANT HAVE A RIGHT TO ASK FOR CERTAIN CONDITIONS?
The defendant is allowed a hearing where they may argue against setting a specific condition of bail. For example, if a person is employed as a truck driver and often has to travel between different states, they may request the courts to grant them the freedom to move within the country to fulfill their employment obligations.
The court will consider the special circumstances of the case and make suitable arrangements depending on the case circumstances.
There are also cases where an accused person is released from custody on certain bail conditions, but later discovers that some conditions of the bail are difficult to meet for them. The accused can submit a plea to have the bail conditions changed based on their circumstances.
There are examples where the bail conditions have been changed by the court while the case is still pending. However, this usually does not happen on the defendant’s schedule. Usually, the process to get bail conditions can take months before they are approved so it is always preferred to agree to get the bail condition right the first time instead of getting them changed later.
CONDITIONAL BAIL BOND
One of the primary conditions for receiving bail is the submission of bond money. A court sets up a bail amount based on the severity of the crime and the defendant’s history. First time offenders accused of a minor crime are set a lower bond amount than repeat offenders accused of more serious crimes.
Depending on the nature of the crime, the bail amount can be anywhere from $10,000 to $1,000,000 or even higher.
The bond can be submitted in court in any of the following forms:
- Cash or bank check for the full amount of the bail
- Submission of property worth the full amount of the bail
- A bond that guarantees payment of the full bail amount
- A waiver of the payable amount on the condition that the defendant will appear in court at the required time,
A large number of defendants that are looking to get bail work with a bail bond company that can post a bond in court on their behalf. This is because the high amount of bail money is not something that everyone can afford to pay. A bond generally costs 10% of the bail amount set by the court.
This can be a good deal compared to posting cash bail on your own. If you pay the full bail amount on your own, you can get the money back when the case is decided. Generally there is a small administrative charge deducted from the bail.
If you use a bond company on the other hand, you will only need to pay 10% of the full amount of bond. The bond company receives their money back at the end of the trial. The 10% fee is non-refundable and kept as service charges by the bond company.
EXCEPTIONS TO BAIL BOND CONDITION
In certain cases, a defendant can get bail from a court without the submission of any bond money. This is called a release on Own Recognizance (O.R.). This type of release is only granted to individuals with strong ties within the community.
The judge can grant bail on O.R. if;
- The defendant has family members, including parents, a spouse or children living in the community.
- The accused has been known to reside in the community for many years and unlikely to move away.
- The defendant is employed in the community.
- The accused has little or no past criminal record or only has criminal records that were minor and occurred many years ago
- The defendant when accused of previous charges has always appeared in court as required.
PROSECUTION AND BAIL CONDITIONS
In the US Justice System, the prosecution and defense have a confrontational kind of relationship with each other. Where the defense aims to get bail for the accused, the prosecution generally argues against granting bail to the defendant. The most common argument used by the prosecution is that the defendant will be a threat to the safety and harmony of the community.
The prosecution is allowed to present evidence in court and pushes to deny bail for the defendant. It is the defense counsel’s job to present strong evidence that can assure the court that the accused will comply with any and all conditions of bail.
Even if the judge is inclined to grant bail, the prosecution aims to get tougher conditions that are difficult to fulfill for the defendant.
If a defendant is found to have broken the conditions in any way, the prosecution can immediately request a cancellation of bail for breach of court orders. This is why it is important to be very mindful of the bail conditions and understand the activities that you must undertake or refrain from while you are on bail.
ELECTRONIC MONITORING BAIL CONDITION
If you feel that the court may not be willing to grant bail even with conditions, the defense counsel can go with an option of electronic monitoring. This condition is called an EM bail.
The defendant is required to wear an electronic ankle bracelet and stay at a particular address. The ankle bracelet cannot be removed and sends a signal to the authorities, giving them your location. You won’t be allowed to leave your home except for approved reasons like going to court or seeing a doctor.
It is a kind of home detention that spares you going to jail. A defendant can only get EM bail if:
- They have already been remanded in custody by the court, and the case is expected to be put off for some time.
- They are expected to remain on bail for at least 14 days.
- The prosecution also agrees to put the defendant on EM bail.
A bail with conditions is a serious affair. Defendants should do their utmost to fulfill the bail requirements. Many rights that you have as an ordinary citizen are temporarily ceased while you are on bail. You have to appear in court on set dates, keep the authorities informed on your residential status, and cannot meet certain people or indulge in certain activities while on bail.
If you fulfill the bail conditions and follow the instructions of your defense counsel, you should be able to remain free from jail until the conclusion of your court case. Getting bail, even with conditions, guarantees your freedom and allows you to carry on with your daily life.