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Who is eligible for bail and how is it determined?

Bail is either money, property or another kind of collateral that is used to secure the release of someone who has been charged with a crime. Bail is basically a promissory note that says to the court that the defendant will come back and face his or her criminal charges. If the defendant does show up in court, then the amount of bail is returned. However, if the defendant fails to show up in court, then the amount of bail is forfeited. But who is eligible for bail and how is the bail amount determined?

Bail eligibility is usually determined by a judge at a court session known as a bail hearing. In certain cases the Assistant State Attorney may ask the judge to deny bail to a defendant. The ASA's reasons could be due to the gravity of the charges the defendant is facing or if the ASA believes that the defendant poses a risk to the local community. This request could also stem from a belief that the defendant would jump bail and not return to court.

During the bail hearing the judge will consider a number of factors in order to determine the bail amount. Typically, this will include the defendant's criminal history, if any, the physical and mental condition of the defendant as well as how long the defendant has lived in their community. The judge may also consider the defendant's finances, their drug and alcohol history, their family ties and what their previous record is regarding court appearances.

Determining the amount of bail for a defendant can sometimes seem confusing. However, any Maryland resident who is facing criminal charges may want to speak with a criminal defense attorney in order to get a better understanding of the bail setting process.

Source:, "What happens to a case in Prince George County Criminal Court?," Accessed Jan. 23, 2016

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