What factors are considered when determining bail?

Massachusetts Bail Lawyer

Massachusetts Bail Factors

Q: What factors will the judge consider when determining whether or not to set bail?

A: If you've been arrested in Massachusetts, the presumption is to release you on your own personal recognizance (or your promise to attend your next court date).  A clerk or bail bondsman will come to the police station (at a cost of $40 to you) to determine if more than just your "promise to appear" is needed to ensure that you will show up to court.  If the clerk finds this to be the case, based on the factors outlined below, he/she will require you to post a certain amount of cash bail before you are to be released.  If you are transported directly from the police station to the court for arraignment, the bail determination is usually made by a judge.  If the clerk sets bail at the police station, and you post that amount, the judge at your arraignment may still increase the amount of your bail.  If this happens, the court will handcuff and place you in custody, and you will not be released until the higher amount of bail is posted.  The bail that you post is collateral for your promise to appear at all court appearances in that particular case, and once your case is disposed of in court, your posted amount minus any fees owed to the court will be returned.

Factors Considered in Determining Whether to Order Bail/ Amount of Bail:
  • Nature and Circumstances of Charged Offense
  • Potential Penalty of Charged Offese
  • Family & ties in the community
  • Employment history, length of residency and reputation in the community
  • History of Mental Illness and Substance Abuse
  • Criminal Record
  • Previous defaults/ history failure to appear at court dates
  • Evidence of flight to avoid prosecution
  • Known aliases/ false identifications
  • Whether currently on bail for another criminal charge
  • Current restraining orders in effect
  • Whether currently on probation or parole, or pending appeal of criminal conviction
When bail is ordered, or when the judge releases you on your personal recognizance, you will be informed that if you are charged with any new offense while out on bail, your bail can be revoked and you can be held for up to sixty days for the previous charge.

If the clerk or District Court judge denies your release on your personal recognizance (in other words, orders that you are held on bail), you have the right to file a petition for review in the Superior Court, where a hearing will be held on the next business day.

If you were arrested in Massachusetts, contact a criminal defense attorney before your bail hearing.  I have argued bail in hundreds of cases, as both a prosecutor and as a defense attorney.

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