In Maryland criminal cases, a judge determines a defendant’s bail based on various factors. The following defines bail, when a judge determines it and additional conditions that may apply.
What is bail?
Generally, bail is a legal arrangement in criminal law where a defendant pays a set amount of money as security in exchange for their release from custody while awaiting trial. Bail is the court’s method of ensuring the defendant returns to appear in future court proceedings.
In a criminal case, bail takes different forms and depends on the information and circumstances of the defendant and the case. For example, a defendant may post bail in cash, a surety bond, property or an unsecured bond. The court may also release the defendant on their own recognizance if they have a low flight risk, which requires no bail amount.
When is bail determined?
Bail is usually determined during the defendant’s first court appearance following an arrest or may take place during a subsequent bail hearing. The judge considers many factors in the bail determination, including the defendant’s criminal history, the severity of the charges, community ties and flight risk.
In making a bail determination, the judge sets the type and amount of bail in a way that aims to balance the defendant’s rights with public safety and the assurance that the defendant will return to court for future proceedings.
A judge may revisit the bail determination if the circumstances of the case change during the criminal proceedings, such as with new or altered charges. A defendant may receive bail after their conviction if a judge allows a stay of their sentence.
When a judge sets bail, they may include specific conditions with the monetary bail requirement. These conditions include travel restrictions, required counseling, or a no-contact order. A defendant may also be required to surrender their passport, have mandatory check-ins with law enforcement, and wear a monitoring device.
Bail allows defendants to remain out of custody while awaiting trial, subject to various conditions. These conditions balance the individual’s flight risk and public safety.