If a person has been arrested in Minnesota, the goal is to have bail set in the lowest possible amount in order to expedite release from custody. Why is it so important for a defendant to be released from jail while his case is pending? The main reason of course is to be able to return to your employment and prevent job loss. The second reason is to be able to assist your attorney in the investigation and preparation of your defense.
The judge will consider various factors when making a decision about how much bail is required in order to protect public safety and to insure future court appearances. Remember, if a defendant fails to make a court appearance, a judge will not only issue an arrest warrant, but will also forfeit the amount of bail posted with the court administrator. Bail factors include, but are not limited to, how long a person has lived at their current residence. The longer the better. Home ownership means a defendant is less likely to flee the jurisdiction. Age is a factor. A defendant who is age 21 or younger is less likely to appear in court as he will have feer ties to the community. Living alone is a negative factor. It’s better to live with others. If you have children, you will stay to support them. If you have a prior history of failing to appear for court, this factor will work against you and result in a higher bail. Criminal history is relevant to the decision since a judge will be less likely to release a person with a lower bail who is at risk to commit more crimes. Employment history is important, too. The more hours per week a person works, the better. It’s best to have full-time employment at the same job for long period of time. This factor indicates stability in a person’s life. The final factor is the seriousness of the crime. A murder charge obviously will warrant a higher bail setting than a misdemeanor offense.
The attorney you hire will need to interview the defendant in the jail before the bail hearing. It is imperative for the lawyer to learn as much as possible regarding these important bail factors. I recently interviewed a client before a bail appearance on a felony First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct charge. I was able to learn important information about the client that was used as ammunition during the bail argument. The interview also allowed me to advise the client not to meet with police officers or investigators and not to talk on the jail phone about the case as conversations are recorded. I further advised the client that if a person came to interview him regarding a bail evaluation, he should fully cooperate.
After meeting with the client, I found out which prosecutor was assigned to handle the bail hearing. I spoke with the prosecutor and stressed the importance of my client being able to post a reasonable bail as he needed to return to his current job and earn money to pay for his child support obligations. The prosecutor came in with a reasonable bail request. I was fortunately able to convince the judge to set a relatively low bail at 25K with conditions. After court, I immediately contacted my bail bonding agent to provide him with information on my clients location, identity, and bail setting. I was informed by the bail bondsman that the last bond he posted for a defendant charged with First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Anoka County was 1 million dollars, down from 1.5 million. I felt good about my case preparaton and was happy for my client. I learned that we was able to afford to post the bond and was released shortly after court.