Getting a call from a loved one who has been arrested and needs your help getting out of jail can be an incredibly frightening experienced. Especially if this person is a closed loved one such as your wife, you will probably feel intense pressure to take the right steps to get her released as quickly as possible. It is certainly true that the actions you take immediately after receiving such a call can make a big difference in how and when your wife is released from custody, and what type of bail she is offered. Below, our experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long explain the best steps to take to get your wife released with as little bail as possible.
How Bail Hearings Work in Philadelphia
In Pennsylvania, the judge sets bail during what is known as a preliminary arraignment. After your wife has been arrested for a crime such as a Philadelphia DUI charge, she will be taken to the local police station where she will go through the booking process. Usually, within a few hours of her being taken into custody, a preliminary arraignment will be held. This process may be delayed if she is arrested during the middle of the night or over the weekend.
A preliminary arraignment is held in front of a magistrate. These magistrates are not judges and do not even have to be lawyers to be appointed to the position. The hearing is unique because your wife is unlikely to actually appear in person before the magistrate. Most preliminary arraignments are conducted via “videoconferencing” technology where your wife will appear on a screen from her holding cell.
There is no right to have a lawyer during this hearing. Oftentimes, in cases where there is no lawyer to make an argument, the magistrate will simply set bail based on the state guidelines, which are often harsh, especially for the most serious crimes like aggravated assault. Having a lawyer appear on your behalf at the hearing can give you a much better chance of being given a reasonable bail or no bail, as an experienced bail hearing defense attorney like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long will know what arguments are most persuasive to the judge. As such, the best first step you can take when you find out your wife has been arrested and is to retain an attorney as soon as possible to argue for her at her bail hearing.
What Are the Different Types of Bail Offered in Philadelphia Courts?
There are five different types of bail that the judge may choose to impose on your wife at her preliminary arraignment. Many will require a cash advance, but some will not. Each of the types is given a basic explanation below. In serious felony cases, the magistrate may choose not to set bail and to require your wife to remain incarcerated until the underlying criminal matter is resolved.
Release on Monetary Conditions
This is the type of bail most commonly understood by the public. A release on monetary conditions means that the judge will impose a specific amount of money that is required to be posted before the defendant can be released. You will have to put up the money up front either through cash or through a lien on your property or other possessions. If your wife skips bail and you cosigned on these conditions, you could be responsible for the entire amount.
The magistrate will consult the bail guidelines to determine the appropriate amount of bail for your wife’s situation. However, there are other factors that the judge can take into consideration, including your wife’s ties to the community, her current employment situation, whether she has previously been convicted of any crimes, whether there is any reason to believe she may leave town if let out of jail, and whether her actions make her a potential danger to the public. A skilled Philadelphia criminal defense attorney will know how to make a case based on these factors that your wife should be released on bail you can afford.
Release on Nominal Bail
Release on nominal bail is somewhat similar to release on monetary bail, except that you or your wife will not be required to put up anything besides a small (nominal) amount. Instead, a bail bondsman will issue a surety guaranteeing that your wife shows up at her court date. Usually, you will have to provide the bail bondsman with 10% of the bail amount up front. If your wife fails to show up for court, the court will go after the bail bondsman for the entire amount of bail. In turn, the bail bondsman will come after you and your wife for reimbursement, and may even employ a bounty hunter to track you down if you avoid their calls.
Release on Unsecured Bail Bond
The court also has the option of releasing you on an unsecured bail bond. In this instance, you will not be required to put up any money or obtain a bail bond, but your wife will have to sign something stating that she is liable for the entire bail amount if she does not show up for court.
Release on Non-Monetary Conditions
Sometimes, the magistrate will not require money bail so long as your wife complies with a set of conditions, such as seeing a therapist, entering drug treatment, or staying out of trouble with the law.
Release on Your Own Recognizance
Release on your own recognizance means release without bail or any other special conditions. This is usually reserved for low-level charges such as disorderly conduct or criminal mischief and for people without a criminal history. If you miss a court date, a bench warrant may be issued against you and you could end up back in jail and facing further penalties.
If You Need Help Getting Your Wife Out on Bail, Call Our Attorneys Today
No one wants to let a loved one spend any more time behind bars than is absolutely necessary. Having an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorney represent your wife at her preliminary arraignment can go a long way toward making sure she is released on as little bail as possible. We know how to make the case to the magistrate that your wife does not deserve to wait in jail while her case plays out. Call our firm today at for a free consultation (215) 302-0171.