Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

What is a Bail Reduction Hearing?

If you can’t afford bail, what do you do? Well, the short answer is, you stay in jail. But there are limits on the amount of bail a court can impose on an individual, based on unique circumstances of that case. If bail seems disproportionately high, a skilled defense attorney can help you get your bail reduced through something called a bail reduction hearing.

How is Bail Set?

The purpose of bail is to ensure that defendants show up for trial. Basically, it’s a form of collateral. The amount of the bail is generally dependent on three factors:

  • The severity of the crime
  • The defendant’s flight risk
  • The risk to the community if the defendant is released from jail

Excessive Bail

“Excessive bail” is prohibited in the Constitution, but it does not go on to define what excessive bail means. For this reason, the Supreme Court ruled that bail should not be so high that it forces the defendant to remain behind bars. The Supreme Court also ruled that it is up to individual courts as to whether a defendant has a right to bail; in some cases, he or she may be refused bail entirely. However, a “compelling governmental interest” has to be shown to refuse a defendant’s right to bail, pending trial.

The Constitution, and a federal statute known as the Bail Reform Act, provide defendants with the right to request a bail reduction when the initial amount is too high. If this is the case, the defendant will ask for a bail reduction hearing. If a defendant cannot afford to pay the bail, and it can be shown that he or she is not a flight risk and poses little to no danger to the public, it can be argued that the imposed amount is akin to a denial of bail.

If a bail reduction hearing is requested, the court must consider this argument. However, there is no rule stating that bail should be easy to pay. In fact, as stated in the Bail Reform Act, the courts can set bail “to induce a defendant to go to great lengths to raise the funds without violating.” In other words, it can be challenging to raise the imposed bail, but not impossible. The good news is, “excessive bail” is a very subjective term. With the help of a highly skilled criminal defense lawyer, your chances of having bail reduced are significantly improved. Contact a Boston defense attorney today.

In much the same way that the defendant can request a bail reduction, the prosecution can request a bail increase. If the prosecution convinces the court that the defendant is a flight risk or a serious threat to the public, this request may be approved. Additionally, if the court suspects that bail funds were acquired through illegal activity, such as drug sales, a subsequent hearing may be held. For all of the above reasons, it is essential to have a knowledgeable, experienced defense attorney by your side through the entire process. Contact a Boston defense law firm today.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Criminal Defense Law Firm Serving All of MA

If you have been charged with any type of crime, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have extensive experience in all areas of criminal law, including bail reductions. Our attorneys will fight tirelessly to protect your rights, your reputation, your freedom, and your wallet. If you cannot afford to pay bail, we can help. We will analyze the details of your situation to determine the best strategy for moving forward, and will position you for the best possible outcome. Don’t attempt to go through this difficult, complicated process alone. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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