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Bail in Maryland Criminal Cases

As a Maryland Criminal Attorney I am often required to deal with issues involving bail. In fact I spoke with a women first thing this morning whose daughter was locked up on a $25,000 bail and charged with Armed Robbery and Assault. The poor women was completely without a clue as to what bail was or how to post it. The defendant was due to be in court for a bail review just a few hours later so she had very little time to get educated and decide what to do.

I told her that her first decision was to decide whether to let her daughter attend the bail review or to bail the her out prior to the bail review. I explained, to her great surprise, that a judge at a bail review can not only lower the bail as set by the court commission, but can also raise the bail. In many instances I advise the family members or friends who contact me about a defendant who is in jail awaiting bail to go ahead and bail the defendant out prior to the bail review because it is my opinion that in that case the bail is more likely to be raised than it is to be lowered. This is exactly what I told this women this morning as by Baltimore City bail standards, $25,000 is low for an Armed Robbery charge. If all cases where a defendant decides that he wants to (or must) attend the bail review he would be foolish not to retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent him at this critical stage of the process.

Once a person’s bail is set there are three basic options for how to post the bail. The first is to post the entire amount of the bail with the court. Few people can do this in cases where there a substantial bail is set. The second option is to hire a bail bondsman or corporate surety. My firm works very closely with a company called Big Boyz Bail Bonds. When you hire a bondsman, they require that you pay a 10% premium in order for them to write the bail and insure the court that the defendant will appear for trial. In the situation above where the bail is $25,000, the premium or fee would be $2500. In many circumstances the bondsman will offer to finance the bail premium requiring a smaller amount, say 1% or 2% ($250 or $500) down and work out a payment plan for the remainder. Big Boyz is very willing to work with people and offers flexible payment plans. Using a bondsman is also usually the quickest and most hassle free way to bail someone out and is the most frequent method used by people in this situation.

The third way to bail someone out is to post property. In order to post property, all persons who are on the deed must appear in person at the clerk or commissioner’s office, with the deed, the most recent tax bill and statement from the mortgage holder. Only the equity in the house may be posted as bail, not the entire value. Moreover because the equity is determined using the tax assessment, from which is subtracted the current mortgage, to determine the equity, the equity is usually far less than it would be using the market value of the home. A person can also post a combination or hybrid bail where a portion of tfe bail written by a bondsman or paid in cash and property equity is posted for the remainder.

Finally, everything that I have explained above is contingent upon the judge not putting restrictions or stipulations on the bail such as “cash only from the defendant”. This restriction is typically put on bails by judges in cases where restitution is due to the victim in the case. That way the only way the defendant can post bail is to deposit enough money with the court to satisfy the claim against him by the victim. Other judges sometimes but different stipulations such as “corporate surety only”. This is done in cases in which the judge wants someone to be motivated to actively search for the defendant should he failure to appear for trial. Some judges are aware that the financial obligation to the court that the bondsman owes when a defendant fails to appear, provides that motivation.

The bottom line here is that there are a lot of options when it comes to posting bail so the prudent person will contact an experienced criminal attorney for advice on how to handle the situation prior to making the decision as to whether and if so using which method, to post bail.

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