Before appearing at a bail hearing, it is always useful to have a basic understanding of what is going to happen during the process. Though each hearing will be a little different than the last, most defendants should expect the following three elements to play a role in their bail hearing:
1. The presentation of the defense lawyer
The bail hearing offers the defense attorney a chance to speak on their client’s behalf. An experienced lawyer will know exactly what the judge is looking for during the hearing. In general, there are four important factors that a judge is likely to consider:
- Personal character
- Current financial and employment status
- Previous criminal history
- Local family and community ties
The defense lawyer is responsible for presenting a positive picture on all four fronts. If they can provide sufficient evidence to the judge of the good nature of the defendant, the outcome of the hearing is likely to be positive.
2. Arguments from the prosecution
Just as the defense is granted the opportunity to speak at a bail hearing, so too is the prosecution. They will present the judge with reasons why the defendant should not be looked favorably upon. Depending on the specifics of the case, they may bring up previous arrests, issues in the local community, or a history of evading the law.
3. The final decision
Once both sides have put their case forward, the judge will carefully review the arguments and make their final bail decision. Their ruling will detail how much the bail bond will be set at and the restrictions that will be placed on the defendant for the duration of their bail. Such restrictions are usually related to traveling out of the state or out of the country, alcohol use, drug use, and regular check-ins with law enforcement officials. In certain cases, the defendant may have to undergo psychiatric testing and psychological evaluation. If the defendant has a poor employment record, a judge may require them to get regular work as a condition of the bail, though this is somewhat rare.
Though most bail hearings follow the same general procedure, some cases will offer a unique element that makes it a little different. If a defendant has any doubt or confusion about the specifics of their bail hearing it is always best to confer with their attorney.
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