If you’re arrested for a crime, you may be temporarily released from police custody by posting bail. You can either pay the bail amount in cash or contact your bail bonds agent so you can be released from custody.
However, if the authorities do not release you from the scene of the crime or from police custody, then chances are, you will be required to attend a bail hearing. A bail hearing or show cause hearing is a legal proceeding where the court determines if you will be allowed to post bail and be released or remain in custody. The purpose of a bail hearing is to determine if you are likely to appear at your trial. In a bail hearing, the amount of bail is also set.
While a bail hearing takes place in a courtroom and in the presence of a jury, it is not a court trial. The judge will not decide if you’re guilty or innocent of the crime, instead, the court will evaluate whether it will be a risk to let you go back into the community while your case is being decided. The risk of letting you out on bail is referred to as grounds for detention. These are some of the factors that the courts will look into during a bail hearing:
- Past criminal records, including convictions and jail time
- Financial resources and employment
- Physical and mental health
- Drug and alcohol-related history
- Family background
- Records concerning appearance at court trials and proceedings
The court will assess whether you will behave properly and comply with the conditions of the court while your case is on trial. You will be allowed to present evidence that will support your intent to appear in court. Evidence can include witness statements about your character and documents showing your ties to your community. In case the court decides to grant bail, you will need to follow conditions while you’re out on bail. These include:
- Limit travel and surrender your passport
- Undergo drug and alcohol testing and
- Undergo medical treatment
- Seek psychiatric or psychological treatment
- Refrain from excessive alcohol consumption or using narcotic drugs
- Refrain from contacting the victim of the crime, witnesses, or other persons which the court may designate
- Refrain from possession of firearms
- Other reasonable conditions that the court may impose
Failure to follow these conditions might make you a threat to the community or result in your inability to appear in the trial. If you are unable to comply with any of these conditions, the court may revoke the bail and order your arrest.
There are cases where the court may refuse the grant of bail. In some states, you may not be granted bail under the following circumstances:
- You have committed a violent crime, such as murder, rape, or kidnapping
- You are considered a flight risk or not a citizen of the country
- You have been in jail before
- You are a threat to the community
- You have failed the mental health evaluation
A bail hearing provides a chance for you to prove that you are willing to cooperate with authorities. It is important that you understand the process so you will know what to expect during the hearing and avoid any problems in the future.