In a couple of recent blog posts, we discussed both the basics of bail, and how to post it in Maine. In those posts, we discussed that bail is money you can give to the court, to assure it that you'll show up for your upcoming court dates. You can post this money in a variety of ways, from paying cash up front, in order to get out of prison immediately, to offering to add a mortgage on your house in Maine. If you're not present at one of your required court appearances, then the bail money could be revoked.
Bail can be a handy system to avoid having to sit in jail in the days or months leading up to your trial. However, it's a system that can only be accessed by those with the money or other means to pay for it.
For many people, who have low wage jobs or who have had trouble finding regular employment, if they get arrested, the cost of bail is far beyond what they can manage. While wealthier people can post the money needed to meet bail and obtain their release from jail before their trial, the impoverished don't have this option. Instead, they're forced to sit behind bars for the months that lead up to their trial, with little other alternative.
If someone isn't able to post their bail money, they'll lose whatever job they counted on for their livelihood after being absent for a few months while locked up, putting them in dire straits once the trial is over. Being locked up prior to trial may also impact the outcome of the trial. That's because while you're in jail, your access to your lawyer is severely limited, compared to the access you would have if you were out on bail. The inability to meet with your attorney in order to "gameplay" how to defend against the charges, sometimes proves fatal to the defense.
And so many people who can't pay bail take the only other alternative that they have – they plead guilty to whatever the charge is, against them, regardless of whether they did it, or not. Instead of spending months in jail, waiting for a trial to determine their guilt or innocence, many people plead guilty simply to get out of jail, avoid posting bail, and get back to work so they don't lose their job. They make the decision to voluntarily accept the consequences of a criminal conviction, which can cripple their future; because the alternative is something that would cripple their present.
The bail system works well, but not for everyone. Until it works well for everyone, though, it shouldn't be viewed as a success, especially when the basis for its failure is determined by how wealthy someone is.
Having a rock-solid criminal defense attorney like William T. Bly can help in the bail stage of a criminal proceeding against you. Through negotiation and fiercely advocating for your rights and interests, William T. Bly can get a better bail bargain for you, letting you live your life, while he prepares to fight for you at your trial and win an acquittal. Call his law office at (207) 571-8146.