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The Bail Hearing ‐ What to Expect and How to Prepare

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The bail hearing usually takes place during an arraignment – the first court appearance which occurs after a defendant has been arrested. Regardless of the type of offense the defendant has been arrested for, it is always best if a defense attorney is present at the hearing.

What to Expect at the Bail Hearing

At the arraignment and bail hearing, a defendant will hear the charges that have been brought against him or her. In most cases, the only people who will be present at the hearing will include the judge, defendant, prosecuting attorney, and defense attorney.

  • During this initial hearing, the defendant cannot plead their case and the attorney cannot argue the case before the judge – the purpose of the hearing is only to notify the defendant of the charges brought against them and to determine bail.
  • While the defense attorney cannot argue the defendant’s case, the attorney can help to assure the judge that the defendant is not a flight risk and argue to reduce the amount of bail requested by the prosecutor.

Preparing for the Bail Hearing

A defendant generally does not have much time to prepare for a bail hearing – so this time must be used wisely. The defendant should try to talk with friends, family, and employers – or provide their contact info to the lawyer – to help gather character references and additional supporting evidence that will prove that the defendant is not a flight risk.

Family and friends may also help to gather documentation needed to help prove the defendant’s character and lack of flight risk – for example, copies of school records, documentation that shows a consistent work history, and evidence of participation in the community (e.g. volunteer groups, PTA, or neighborhood association membership).

Bail Hearing Tips for Defendants

Although defendants should speak as little as possible during the arraignment, they can help to improve their chances for bail – and possibly a lowered bail amount – by being respectful to the court at all times during the hearing. Any type of outburst or even body language that may seem disrespectful to the court and the judge can be seriously detrimental to the outcome of the hearing.

At the bail hearing, defendants should stand straight with arms at their sides (crossed arms or hunched positions are often deemed as disrespectful). If the judge asks the defendant a question, the defendant should respond promptly and with a respectful tone to his or her voice. He or she should also look at the judge when answering any questions. Using the proper body language, maintaining eye contact, and showing respect to the court can prove to the court that the defendant is taking his or her case seriously – and, as a result, the judge may show some leniency at the hearing.

*The information in this article does not constitute legal advice. Please contact a legal professional in your local area for the best up-to-date and accurate legal advice.

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