Getting arrested and accused of committing a crime is stressful. It can make you feel embarrassed, shocked, and dumbfounded that things could go so far, even when you haven't done anything wrong.
Unfortunately, the process of being arrested and booked for a crime can also put a strain on your finances, if you need to be bailed out of jail. Depending on the seriousness of the crime, bail can be expensive. Here's what you can expect in this step of the criminal justice system.
After you get arrested, you'll be taken into a police department for booking. This is when law enforcement will record your personal information, like your name and address, as well as information about the crime that you're accused of committing. They'll also take your fingerprints, and confiscate your personal belongings. Then you'll be put in a holding cell, or the local jail, to make sure you'll be around for your upcoming court appearances, and trial.
Of course, your trial is a long ways away, and it's unfair to hold people in jail for all of that time. You could lose your job, and miss out on important life events. This is disheartening, especially if it eventually comes out that you were innocent all along.
That's where the bail process comes in.
Bail is a sum of money that you have to give to the court, as proof that you'll be present for your future court dates. If you post bail, and then come to all of your required court appearances, then your bail money will be refunded to you by the court at the conclusion of the case. However, if you post bail and then aren't present for a required court appearance, then your bail money will be forfeited, and you'll be subject to an arrest for failure to appear.
The bail amount will depend on the seriousness of the crime and your criminal record, as well as whether the court thinks you'll pose a danger to the community or will be a flight risk. Many times there won't be a bail, at all, and you'll be released on your own recognizance. If this is the case, you won't have to post any money, at all. Instead, you'll just have to make a written promise to appear in court, later on.
If you are required to post bail in order to be released before your trial, then things get more complex. Each of the different courts in Maine, and even different judges in each of those courts, do things a little differently. In our next blog post, we'll go over just one of the many complexities surrounding the bail process in Maine: How you can pay bail.
Bail is just one more aspect of the legal system where having a top-notch criminal defense attorney can help tremendously. William T. Bly has successfully challenged bail decisions numerous times in the past, making it far less expensive and painful for people facing criminal charges to get out of jail before their trial. Call Mr. Bly's law office, at (207) 571-8146, if you think that your bail requirements are too tough. He can fight for you in court to get them reduced.