Bail Reviews in Maryland. Part 1: When is a bail review hearing held?

When a family member or friend is arrested in Maryland and held on a bond, it can be a stressful and trying time for that person and their loved ones for many reasons. You may be thinking that you have try to get them out as soon as possible. Maybe the bond is too high and you are unable to put together enough money to get them out. There are a number of steps in the bail review process and a lawyer may be able to help so that the person is released without a bond, they are able to be released on pretrial supervision, or their bond is significantly lowered or otherwise beneficially altered.

1. Commissioner sets initial bond
Once someone in Maryland is arrested, and after being booked and processed, they are set to see a commissioner in order for a bond to be set. The commissioner generally looks at the defendant’s prior arrest history and the charges in the pending case when making a bond determination. If the charges are minor and the defendant has minimal priors, the commissioner may release the defendant on his own recognizance. Otherwise, the commissioner may set a nominal bond.

2. First bail review hearing in District Court
If the defendant has yet to be released, Maryland law dictates that the defendant will receive a bail review hearing before a District Court judge within 24 hours of seeing the commissioner. The judge can lower the bond, raise the bond, keep the bond the same, release the defendant on his own recognizance, etc.

3. Bail review hearing upon entry of attorney
After the first bail review hearing, if the defendant has yet to post bond and does not have an attorney then they will be held at the county’s detention facility until trial. When the defendant obtains an attorney after the initial bail review hearing, the defense attorney can request and the court will hold another bail review hearing as soon as possible.

4. After a Preliminary Hearing
If the case started out with felony charges that were later dismissed or dropped at a Preliminary Hearing, it is possible to obtain another bail review hearing to lower bond in light of the defendant’s improved circumstances.

In addition to these situations, a defense attorney can always request a bail review hearing if circumstances have changed that may lead to a more favorable outcome for the defendant. An experienced attorney will know what information to gather from the defendant and what arguments to make to the judge/commissioner which can make a huge difference in whether a defendant is able to get his or her bail reduced prior to trial.

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