Being arrested is an intensely scary experience, but sometimes, it can be just as terrifying to find out that someone you love has been arrested. When you receive a call from your husband in the middle of the night asking for you to come bail him out of jail, if you have not had previous experience with the criminal justice system you are probably unsure what to do. As overwhelmed as you will surely be, it is important that you act fast to safeguard your husband’s rights. Below, our experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long guide you through the best steps to take to secure your husband’s bail and deal with his underlying criminal case if you get that dreaded late-night call.
How Bail Is Set in Philadelphia
After someone has been arrested and booked for a crime such as DUI in Philadelphia, the first step in their criminal proceeding will be to go before a “magistrate” at their preliminary arraignment. This usually occurs within a few hours of the person being detained, but can sometimes take longer if the person is arrested during the night or on the weekend. A magistrate is not a judge or even a lawyer necessarily, just an individual appointed by the city to handle these preliminary arraignments.
Many times at a preliminary arraignment, the defendant will not actually be present in court. Instead, they will be “videoconferenced” in from the holding cell in whatever police station in which they are being held. During the hearing, the magistrate will make a decision about whether bail should be set and, if so, how much bail should the defendant be required to put up.
There is no guarantee to an attorney for someone facing a preliminary arraignment, but an attorney can often make a big difference in the matter if he or she knows what the magistrate is looking for. When a lawyer is not present, it is often the case that the magistrate will simply look to the state’s bail guidelines for the alleged crime to set bail without considering anything about your husband’s background or ability to pay. A skilled bail hearing defense attorney like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long will know how to make the case to the magistrate that your husband deserves to be released on little to no bail. For this reason, the best first step you can take to get your husband out of jail is to get him an attorney as quickly as possible.
Types of Bail Set in Pennsylvania
The magistrate will have the ability to choose between five general types of bail that are issued in the Philadelphia courts. Below, we explain the basics of each type.
Release on Own Recognizance
Release on your own recognizance means that you are released without being required to put up cash bail and without any conditions other than showing up for your next court date. Typically, this type of bail is reserved for minor offenses such as disorderly conduct or underage drinking, and for those who do not have a history of criminal convictions or of failing to appear in court as requested. Some of the other factors the judge will take into consideration include your husband’s ties to the community through family or gainful employment, whether he might be a “flight risk” who tried to flee from justice, and whether the crimes he is accused of makes him a potential danger to the public. A skilled lawyer can argue that these factors tilt in favor of the magistrate releasing your husband on your own recognizance.
Release on Non-Monetary Conditions
The judge has the option of releasing your husband without requiring him to put up any money, but with non-monetary conditions he must follow. If he fails to comply with these conditions, he can be arrested and put into detention, and the judge will either set money bail or no bail at all. Such conditions might include attending a drug treatment program or seeing a counselor.
Release on Unsecured Bail
The judge will have the option of releasing your husband on unsecured bail, which will mean that you do not have to put any money down up front to bail him out. However, your husband will be required to sign a document stating that if he does not show up for court as scheduled, he will be responsible for paying a certain amount of money.
Release on Nominal Bail
This type of bail involves having a surety bond issued by a licensed bail bondsman. As your husband will be incarcerated, it will likely be up to you to contact the bail bondsman and work out the details. Basically, the bail bondman will pay most of the bail money and you or your husband will only have to put up a small (nominal) fee. The bondsman will likely require 10% of the bail amount from you or your wife up front to issue the bond.
If your husband fails to show up for court as required, the bail bondman will be required to pay the full amount. The bondman is then likely to come after the defendant or any co-signors in order to have that amount repaid. They are known to aggressively pursue what they are owed and even use bounty hunters to track you down if you try to avoid repaying them.
Release on a Monetary Condition
This is probably the most well-known type of bail. In this case, your husband, or someone like you on his behalf, will be required to put down whatever the amount of bail issued by the magistrate is, either in cash or through a lien on your property or possessions. Bail will be higher for more serious crimes, such as Philadelphia homicide charges. If your husband fails to show up for court, you will forfeit the money you put down and be forced to pay the rest of the amount.
If You Need Help Bailing Your Husband Out of Jail, Call Our Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Now
No one wants to spend days, weeks, or even months in jail waiting for the slow wheels of justice to turn and their criminal case to be resolved. This is why it is vital to act fast to retain an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorney like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long to represent your husband at his preliminary hearing. Our lawyers have a successful track record of getting our clients released with little to no bail. For a free consultation, call us today at (215) 302-0171.