What takes place at a bail hearing in Massachusetts? What can I expect?

A bail hearing usually occurs at arraignment. An arraignment is when a case begins in court and is the formal reading of the charges to the defendant in open court. The purpose of a bail hearing is to see whether conditions of release or money posted to the court as bail is necessary to assure the accused will show up on future court dates to answer to the charge.

It is presumed that a person should be released on his own personal recognizance which means on his word that he will return. The sole purpose of bail is to assure that the accused will appear to answer to the charge in court. Many times prosecutors will ask for a high bail even though a client had been summonsed in and appeared on his own for an arraignment. The reason the prosecutor sometimes ask for a high bail is because they are under the confused belief that a bail should be high to reflect the seriousness of the crime charged. Although the nature of the offense and the potential penalty are factors to be considered by a judge in setting bail they are not the purpose of Bail.

What can I expect if I have been arrested and brought to court in custody or if I show up for a summons arraignment?

On your first day in court you will be arraigned which is read the charges that you face, a plea of not guilty is always entered at this phase of the case. The judge will then address the prosecutor and ask him whether there are any conditions of release or a monetary bail that they are requesting. The issue of whether a bail is set depends on the nature of the offense, a clients criminal history, as well as a careful consideration by the judge of all the factors laid out in the bail statute. A bail is either set at personal recognizance which means to return on your own word or a monetary bail is placed on a client. Conditions of release usually apply to certain cases; an assault and battery case may have a condition that a client not have any contact or abuse the named victim. Types of conditions vary widely and all depend on the type of charge and the specific situation involved; they can range from a stay away order to a GPS bracelet with limitations of where a person can go. Even house arrest can be imposed.

It is important to have an experienced criminal lawyer represent you at arraignment and in an initial bail hearing. And experienced attorney can give you your best chance at getting a reasonable bail and limit the amount of conditions that are placed upon you.

As a criminal lawyer in Boston Frank Fernandez has handled numerous bail hearings and all types of cases from trafficking in drug offenses, sexual assaults, operating under the influence as well as many other offenses.

If you have been arrested for an offense or have a default warrant removal which needs to be addressed please contact criminal lawyer Frank Fernandez for a free consultation related to your case. Call 617-393-0250 for a free consultation with a Boston criminal lawyer.

Below are the bail factors to be considered as laid out in Massachusetts statute M.G.Lc. 276 §58:

The bail statute specifically provides for the following factors for a judge to consider. It is important to remember that each of these factors is only relevant to the extent it bears on the question of the juvenile’s likelihood of returning to court to face the charges.

  • His reputation in the community
  • His record of convictions, if any
  • Any illegal drug distribution or present drug dependency
  • Any flight to avoid prosecution or fraudulent use of an alias or false identification
  • Any failure to appear at any court proceeding to answer to an offense
  • Whether the person is on bail pending adjudication of a prior charge
  • Whether the acts alleged involve abuse as defined in 209A Abuse Prevention Act
  • Whether the acts alleged involve a violation of a temporary or permanent order issued
    • Chapter 208, sections 18 or 34B Restraints in divorce proceedings, vacate marital home
    • Chapter 209, section 15, 30, 32, Marital restraints
    • Chapter 209A sections 3, 4 or 5 Abuse prevention orders
    • Chapter 209C sections 15 or 20 Abuse prevention temporary orders or modification of orders
  • Whether the person has any history of orders issued against him pursuant to the aforesaid (above) sections
  • Whether he is on probation, parole or other release pending completion of a sentence for any conviction
  • Whether he is on release pending sentence or appeal for any conviction