In Massachusetts, the purpose for bail is to ensure a person’s appearance at the next court date. Most people charged with crimes in Massachusetts are released on their own personal recognizance, or their promise to appear at the next date. For other people, it is up to the judge to set the bail amount.
Bail is set by the judge at the time of arraignment. The arraignment is the first court appearance when someone is formally charged with a crime. A judge hears an argument from both the prosecutor and the defense lawyer before the judge sets the bail.
Whether someone is a flight risk or a danger to the community are the two factors judges consider in setting bail. If the defendant can demonstrate that he will appear in court on the next date then the judge should not impose a bail.
The law that deals with bail in Massachusetts (MGL c276 s58) lists the factors judges may consider set bail in Massachusetts. They are:
- the nature and circumstances of the offense charged,
- the potential penalty the person faces,
- the person’s family ties,
- financial resources,
- employment record
- history of mental illness,
- his reputation
- the length of residence in the community,
- his record of convictions, if any,
- any illegal drug distribution or present drug dependency,
- any flight to avoid prosecution or fraudulent use of an alias or false identification,
- any failure to appear at any court proceeding to answer to an offense,
- whether the person is on bail pending adjudication of a prior charge,
- whether the acts alleged involve abuse as defined in section one of chapter two hundred and nine A, or violation of a temporary or permanent order issued
Once the judge sets bail, the person may either post it at the courthouse or at the county jail or House of Correction. If the person cannot post the bail then he may appeal the bail to a judge in Superior Court. The judge in Superior Court may raise it, lower it or keep it the same.
Patrick Donovan is a Massachusetts criminal lawyer committed to providing the best criminal defense in Massachusetts. Attorney Donovan is a former prosecutor that has appeared in over fifty courts in Massachusetts. Attorney Donovan has represented people charged with felony and misdemeanor crimes.