One of the very first steps in the criminal process is the issue of bail and the attendant bail hearing. In New Hampshire the issue of bail is governed by statute. Almost everyone has a right to bail. But, more pressing, what is the bail going to be? Am I going to need to come up with a million dollars or is the court going to let me return if I promise to appear at my future hearings? Your liberty is already in jeopardy.
Clients are typically released on one of three types of bail. Personal Recognizance means that you promise to pay a certain amount in the event that you fail to appear. So, $5,000 personal recognizance means you are getting out and, if you fail to appear for your court date, you owe $5,000. Sometimes clients are released on cash bail. Lastly, clients are sometimes released on a cash or surety bail. A bail company will post the cash in exchange for a fee.
Courts typically focus on several narrow issues when determining bail. First, is the person a flight risk? Are they going to run off to some Bungalow in the South Pacific or are they going to show up for court? The court, and the prosecutors, look to see if the individual has a history of failing to appear at court hearings (defaults) or a history of violating the terms and conditions of bail set on prior occasions.
Secondly, does the person pose harm to himself/herself or others? The court is going to scrutinize a person’s prior criminal record and the nature of the underlying charges.
Mark and I often advocate for alternative non-monetary bail conditions. For example, the court can order that one person stay away from another, refrain from the use and possession of alcohol/drugs, not possess any weapons and remain away from certain property. Often times, when a client is suffering a drug dependency, we will argue that the individual should be released on bail upon entry into a residential drug rehabilitation program.
The bottom line is this – the earlier you obtain an attorney the better. We get started on day 1 gathering all the necessary facts and information to successfully litigate the issue of bail. If incarcerated, we get the ball rolling and an immediate bail hearing.
Our telephone number is: 603-595-5525