Conditions of Release & Bail - The Arraignment
When you are first charged with a crime, your first appearance will usually be for an arraignment. You can appear at this hearing either in-custody or out-of-custody. On minor crimes your attorney may be able to waive your appearance, and enter a plea on your behalf.
At the arraignment, you will appear in front of the judge, accompanied by your defense attorney. Depending on which venue you are in, either a city or state prosecuting attorney will appear to represent the city or state that is prosecuting you.
The prosecutor will provide your attorney and the judge with the charging document, called the "information". The information specifically lists: 1) what law you are alleged to have broken; 2) where you are alleged to have broken it; and 3) when you are alleged to have done so.
The prosecutor should also provide your attorney with a document called a "declaration for determination of probable cause" or "certification for probable cause". This document goes by different names depending on the venue, but is always a sworn statement by either a prosecutor or a law enforcement officer, offered to aid a judge in determining "probable cause". It normally offers a short synopsis of what you are alleged to have done, usually limited to a page or two. The judge will initially assume the truth of the document, and if they find probable cause exists that the crime occurred, they may set "conditions of release". In almost every case, the judge will initially find probable cause.
Conditions of release are your obligations to the court, while you are charged with a crime. Even though you have not been convicted, a judge may set conditions upon you, while you are awaiting your trial. Generally the judge may set conditions (including bail) on you if they believe that you will 1) commit a violent crime, and/or 2) will seek to intimidate witnesses, or otherwise unlawfully interfere with the administration of justice. While this may seem like a high bar, courts regularly find that even minor crimes rise to the level that they can order such conditions.
Normal conditions of release that courts impose vary based on the crime charged. They may include general prohibitions like refraining from new law abiding behavior violations, or more specific ones like: consuming no alcohol; having no contact with a certain person or class of persons; or not driving or leaving the state or county.
Bail is another condition of release. If a judge orders bail, and a person is not able to post it, then they must remain in jail while their case progresses. Bail can be posted in a few ways, but normally is either posted in cash to the court, or is posted through a bail bonds company. Ask us for a recommendation regarding a reputable bail bonds company.
At the conclusion of the arraignment, the judge will set the next court hearing, which could occur in a few weeks or a few months, depending on various scheduling factors.
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Call us today at (253) 867-2675 to arrange for a discreet consultation with our lead criminal defense attorney in our Kent office. See Keith Hall's latest blog post on bail here. Or see our other resource sections.