In Maryland and elsewhere, a person who has been accused of a crime and taken to jail is sometimes released from custody while he or she awaits trial. In some cases, a conditional amount of money is deposited as a means of guaranteeing the person's appearance in court. A recent article discussed concerns raised by some who believe that erratic bail amounts in Baltimore have caused many people to languish in jail due to exorbitant bail amounts being set in minor offense cases. Such situations could raise additional criminal defense issues.
The recent article claimed that bail amounts in Baltimore depend largely upon a judge's personal assessment as to whether the person charged with a crime is at risk for becoming a fugitive or could endanger the general public. According to the report, some commissioners or judges order a bail to be paid in cash; when the cash due is a large amount, many people must linger in prison because of insufficient funds. Information provided suggests that approximately 60 percent of those charged with a crime in the Maryland city will not be found guilty but will still spend extended periods of time in jail while they await their trail dates.
Apparently, there is a huge back log of court cases in Baltimore. Thus, the amount of time a person spends behind bars awaiting his or her trial for a minor offense can be quite lengthy when the bail has been set as high as those who have faced far more serious charges. A chief attorney from the felony trial division in the city stated that it is unfair for a person, who is to be presumed innocent unless and until proved guilty in court, to remain in jail because of flaws in the system.
Sitting in a jail cell longer than is necessary would understandably be a concern for most Maryland residents who are facing charges. A person in similar circumstances has the right to seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney. A legal professional in the area will be familiar with the bail system in Baltimore and would most likely be able to offer valuable guidance with regard to what options are available for gaining a temporary release from prison while one awaits trial.
Source: citypaper.com, "Bail system creates another hurdle for poor defendants, including recent protestors", Karen Houppert, May 19, 2015