If you are arrested or facing criminal charges, your first introduction to the Philadelphia criminal court system may involve the setting of bail by a magistrate or judge. At The Zeiger Firm, we understand that the criminal justice system may feel intimidating. We want to help make it less so by seeking to reduce your bail.
Philadelphia Bail System
According to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO), bail is the money a defendant must pay to be released before trial. The purpose of bail is to guarantee the defendant’s appearance in court. Bail defines the terms of release, meaning you may be released on your own recognizance (ROR), released on conditions, or required to post cash bail. Philadelphia’s District Attorney’s Office has eliminated cash bail for certain (but not all) misdemeanors and felonies.
Bail Hearing Process in Pennsylvania
If you cannot pay the amount of money set for bail, you will be held in custody until the case is resolved. As such, seeking a low bond amount is crucial in a criminal case so you can return to your home, family, and job. In Pennsylvania, criminal defendants typically post 10 percent of the stated amount for bail.
Specific factors influence the bail amount, such as:
- The seriousness of the current case
- Whether the defendant is a flight risk (if they’ve ever failed to appear for court previously, and, if so, how many times or whether they are likely to flee the jurisdiction before the proceedings begin)
- Whether the defendant has a prior criminal record, and, if so, for what and how many prior convictions
- The strengths of the Commonwealth’s case, including whether the witnesses are police or civilians and if they are civilians if they have ever failed to appear
Felonies are likely to result in a higher bail, while misdemeanors or non-violent felonies typically result in lower bail amounts or ROR.
Process of Requesting a Bail Reduction in Philadelphia
The bail amount is set at the preliminary arraignment, the first step in a criminal case in Philadelphia. The arraignment is held after the defendant has been arrested and held and processed at the police station. Then, the defendant appears for a video hearing before a commissioner.
Retaining an attorney before the hearing is the best way to seek a lower bail. Both sides will argue concerning the bond amount, but the commissioner determines the final amount the defendant must pay to get out of jail.
At the Zeiger Firm, we understand the bail hearing process in Pennsylvania may be unfamiliar. Having a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney by your side can help alleviate the stress of this preliminary arraignment.
Key Arguments for Reducing Bail
Having an aggressive and experienced lawyer equipped with proven bail negotiation strategies is crucial in reducing the bail amount. We may make the following arguments in favor of lower bail:
- Demonstrating strong community ties
- Highlighting a lack of criminal history
- Assurance of compliance with court orders
The court may order a lower bail if your arrest was a first-time offense. We may also petition the court for house arrest or direct supervision before trial to reduce bail.
How a Lawyer Can Help Reduce Your Bail
Are you or a loved one facing arrest in Philadelphia? If so, The Zeiger Firm can help you in all aspects of your criminal case, including by seeking to reduce your bail. From negotiating with the prosecutor to presenting arguments in court to reduce your bail, we will argue for your best result. Contact us today for a free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia.