Today I’m going to talk about what happens when you’re arrested before you come before a judge and how do you bail out and things like that.
When police are going to charge you with a crime they have a couple options, one is to write you a ticket and let you go another one is to mail you a complaint or the third option they have is to actually arrest you and bring you down to jail and wait for the prosecutor to charge you. If they do that the police can arrest you on probable cause and they can keep you in jail for up to 36 to 48 hours depending, at least here in Minnesota, without even being charged. And then if you’re not charged by the time that that 36 or 48 hours is up they have to let you go unless they can show a good cause to a judge as to why you should still be held. Weekends don’t count for that 36 or 48 hours. So, if you brought in on a Friday night that 36 or 48 hours doesn’t start to count until Monday morning so if someone’s picked up on a Friday night they might not even get in front of a judge until Tuesday or Wednesday.
There are some things that can be done to speed that up. If you or your family get ahold of a criminal defense lawyer a lot of times we can call the judge who’s in charge of setting bail and without you even going to court we can get you released or get bail set without a court appearance in some cases, so that you don’t have to sit for one or two or three days or four days even waiting to get in front of a judge, sometimes people risk losing their job if they’re in jail that long so that’s something you should try to do if you’re able to.
If you’re taken into custody and you’re given a bail hearing, what happens is after you’re charged you’ll get in front of a judge and the judge and the judge is going to determine whether they should let you go on your own and just give you another court date to come back, whether they should give you certain conditions—conditions like remain law abiding, give random urine analysis tests if it’s a drug offense for example, or if it’s a drinking and driving thing they might push on what’s called a scram bracelet or an alcohol bracelet that goes off if you’ve been drinking those are special conditions they can give instead of setting bail for you or in combination with bail. They might say don’t do not contact this person or go around them if it’s like an assault case there are a whole bunch of different conditions judges can impose if they don’t want to give you bail but they don’t just want to let you go your own, of course the judge always has the option to give you conditions plus bail or just straight bail.
The purpose of bail—bail is only a last alternative for a judge and some judges need to be reminded of that but the purpose of bail is to assure that you’ll come back for your future court appearances and bail can run anywhere from a couple hundred dollars all the way on up to sometimes a hundred thousand or even a million dollars depending on cases.
If you get bail set you can either pay the cash in the amount of the judge sets for cash bail or you can hire a bond company to post a bond for you. Bond companies typically charge ten percent and then they make a pledge you or your family pledged collateral to secure that loan from the bond company basically so. If a bond set at $50,000 bucks a bond company would charge you five thousand bucks plus make a pledge collateral that’s their fee they keep it you don’t get that money back. The bond company puts up a $50, 0000 to the court and promises that you’ll come back and they’ll hunt you down if you don’t, the bond company, because otherwise they’re going to lose that bond.
What a judge considers when you go before them at your first appearance before a judge on the bail hearing is things like how severe the crime is that you’re charged with. Obviously the more severe the crime the more likely it is that judge is going to set a high bail. Also have you been in trouble before? The more trouble you’ve been in the more likely it is that the judge is going to set a higher bail. And then how likely are you to come back to court? Thins that judges think are going to make you more likely to come back to court are if you have family or friends in the area, if you’ve lived in the area for a long time, if you’ve got a steady job in the area, if you haven’t been in trouble before, if you have been in trouble before but you’ve always made your other court appearances, if you’re medically disabled and it’s not likely that you’re going to flee all those sorts of things and many others that they’ll look at in determining whether or not you’re likely to come back to court.
Obviously the less likely they think you are to come back to court or the less ties you have to the community the more likely they’re going to set bail in order to make sure that you’ve got some cash out of pocket that you’ll get returned to you as long as you come back to court if you’re posting a cash bail.
So, those are some of the factors that a judge looks at when determining bail again with a whole other things. They’ll also look at the weight of the evidence against you obviously the more weight of evidence there is against you and the allegations the more likely it is that you committed the crime in the judge’s mind, the more likely it is that they’re going to want to set bail on you.
And then they look at other conditions because again if they don’t have to set bond they can just set conditions or let you out on your own and hopefully if you just follow those conditions that’s enough for the judge to be assured that you’ll come back to court and make your future court appearances. You’ll also have the right to be appointed to public defender apply for a public defender if you cannot afford a lawyer. You have the right of course to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present at your bail hearing or to get a lawyer before your next bail hearing. You’re also informed a lot of time to the rights that you have even at your first court appearance including your right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and your right to remain silent throughout your case which is a very good idea at your bail hearing you don’t want to talk about what did or didn’t happen in the event you’ll get that opportunity later.
If there are no charges at the expiration of that 36 or 48 hours that the judge will usually release you. If the county attorney or the prosecutor hasn’t had time to charge you yet but in most cases they’ll find a way to get you charged and you’re going to be dealing with either conditional release, being released on your own with another court date or given a bond to post.
This is the process in state court in Minnesota.