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Bond Hearings and Bail in Maryland

Posted by Kathryn Batey | Sep 19, 2023 | 0 Comments

Pre-Trial Detention in Maryland

When you or a loved one is charged with a crime in Maryland, the next steps can vary based on the type of charges and the past history of the person charged.

For most misdemeanors and felonies carrying small amounts of jail time – once you are arrested and processed by the local sheriff's department, you will see a Commissioner. The commissioner can choose to (1) Release you on your own recognizance (2) release you on a bail amount (3) Hold you over to see a Judge within 24 hours.

What If the Commissioner does not Release me?

Once you have been charged with a crime, you are entitled to appear before a Judge within 24 hours if you are not released by the Commissioner. All courthouses in Maryland hold bail review hearings in both the District and Circuit Courts – sometimes in person and sometimes via a Video Hearing. At the bail review hearing, you are entitled to an attorney if you would like one – there will be a prosecutor participating in the hearing, often arguing against release. Similar to the Commissioner, a Maryland judge can (1) release you on your own recognizance (2) Release you on a bail amount (3) Release you to a pre-trial program if the county has one, which could include Electronic Monitoring (4) Hold you without bond in the Detention Center.

What does Personal Recognizance Mean?

              If you or a loved one is released on their own recognizance, it means that you will be released from custody, given your next court date, and told to return to court for all future hearings. A Commissioner or a Judge may place conditions on your release – such as staying away from an address or a specific person. You may be ordered to surrender all Firearms or your Passport.

What is a Pre-Trial Program?

              Many counties in Maryland have Pre-Trial release programs, often with different levels of increasing supervision. Depending on the county where you are charged, the charge itself, and your criminal history may all play in a role in how intensive your supervised release may be. Many counties will assign you an agent to check in with, may have some level of substance testing, and the most restrictive levels will include electronic monitoring or Home Detention.

What If the Judge sets a Cash Bail or Bond?

              While most jurisdictions in Maryland are moving away from setting a monetary bond, it is still possible. A Judge can release you on an unsecured bond – which means you do not have to pay anything to get released, but you will be on the hook for the full amount if you do not appear for a court date. Alternatively, a Judge can release you on a secured bond – meaning that you or a loved one must pay the Court either the full amount of the bond or 10% of the amount, if the judge allows the lower payment. Once the case is over, as long as you have not missed any court dates, you will get the money back.

              If a Judge sets a monetary bond in the case, and does not authorize 10%, there are companies (Bail Bondsman) that will pay the bond for your or your loved one, usually for a percentage of the total bond. However, the bail bondsman keeps the percentage you pay them in exchange for fronting the full amount to the court.

Property Bail

              If you own real property – such as a house – you can use its value as collateral to pay your bail. If you or your loved one does not appear in court, the state can then seize the property.

How does the Judge Determine Release?

              Both the commissioner and the judge will look at several factors to determine whether someone should be released, given a bail, or placed on some other type of Pre-Trial Release. Most commonly, the judge will look at:

  • Whether or not the defendant is a flight risk, or has a history of not appearing.
  • The severity of the current allegations
  • The defendant's criminal history
  • Whether there is a risk to the community OR a risk to the defendant him or herself.

How can an Attorney help at a Bond Review Hearing?

              The earlier you retain an attorney for a case, the more likely you are to ensure that all of your rights are protected. An attorney can advocate for your release, or for specific conditions that allow you to continue to do the things you need to do – work, provide for children, etc. – while a case is pending. Retaining an attorney prior to the bond review can also ensure that an attorney is able to make good strategic decisions from the beginning of the case, including what should or should not be said on the record with the Judge and Prosecutor present. An attorney can also ensure that you are well connected with bail or pre-trial services, making the process as smooth and efficient as possible so you can get back to your life.

At Safe Harbor Criminal Defense, we know the bail process can be daunting and stressful. We want to help get you or your loved one out of jail as soon as possible. Call us today at 240-200-4077 for a free 30 minute consultation to make sure you are getting the representation you need. 

About the Author

Kathryn Batey

Kathryn Batey, the owner and firm practioner, has spent the entirety of her legal career defending clients against the justice system.  Kathryn graduated from American University's Washington College of law in 2012 and went to work immediately for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, where...


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