The Rules of Criminal Procedure require that a defendant’s bail be no higher than necessary to reasonably ensure the defendant’s appearance and compliance with the conditions of the bail bond. (234 Pa. Code Rule 524). Bail is not supposed to be punitive. A judge cannot punish a defendant by raising their bail to an unreasonably high level before their court date. If such a judge has issued what seems like a punitive bail, it should be challenged.
There are factors the court uses to evaluate whether the defendant’s bail should be lowered. The judge is obligated to consider all relevant information that may go to the defendant’s appearance or nonappearance at trial. The factors provided in 234 Pa. Code Rule 523 are specifically as follows:
- the nature of the offense charged and any mitigating or aggravating factors that may bear upon the likelihood of conviction and possible penalty;
- the defendant’s employment status and history, and financial condition;
- the nature of the defendant’s family relationships;
- the length and nature of defendant’s residence in the community, and any past residences;
- the defendant’s age, character, reputation, mental condition, and whether addicted to alcohol or drugs;
- if the defendant has previously been released on bail, whether he or she appeared as required and complied with the conditions of the bail bond;
- whether the defendant has any record of flight to avoid arrest or prosecution, or of escape or attempted escape;
- the defendant’s prior criminal record;
- any use of false identification; and
- any other factors relevant to whether the defendant will appear as required and comply with the conditions of the bail bond.
If you or a loved on is in jail on bail, speak with a private criminal defense lawyer. The lawyer can give you an idea of whether the bail is within the guidelines. The attorney may file a motion to reduce bail. While there is not guarantee the bail will be lowered, our office has had great success inn reducing bail on such motions.
After the motion is filed, a date is set for a bail hearing. At the hearing the lawyer argues on behalf of the defendant for a reduction. An attorney should include any relevant factors that would favor a reduction. This may include close family ties, employment, and residency in Philadelphia. Often times, bail is reduced at such a hearing.
If you or a loved one is in jail on excessive bail, contact Mark D. Copoulos, Esquire. We look forward to providing you with excellent service.