Recently, I sat down to post a bail with a district court commissioner in Anne Arundel County. It was relatively late at night and I was the only one there so we had a brief conversation about the bails that were being set in this particular county. I had been noticing a lot of bails that get set at insanely high amounts upon the defendants initial bail hearing with the district court commissioner. In addition, I noticed that if the defendant was unable to post the initial bail, when they went to bail review the following business day a large majority of them were reduced significantly.
As I sat with the district court commissioner of Anne Arundel County I asked her as to why this was such a frequent occurrence. She explained to me that so many commissioners have seemed to lose their grasp on what the primary purpose of bail is. For those that don't know, the primary purpose of bail is to INSURE THE DEFENDANTS APPEARANCE IN COURT. The commissioner further expressed that we are currently in a recession, very few people at all can make bails such as $100,000 and up.
When a commissioner sets bond they take into consideration risk of flight and danger to public safety. They also delve into the defendants history and see if he or she has similar charges. Too many commissioners however have not been mindful of the amounts they are setting in regards to insuring the defendants appearance in court. Of course some people do warrant very high bails, but $150,000 for driving on a suspended license is a tad bit outrageous even if the defendant has had a couple similar prior cases.
My conversation with the district court commissioner was very helpful in dealing with future clients trying to post bails in Anne Arundel County. Just recently we had a family call us for a $150,000 bail for a Maryland DUI case. The defendant was not from Maryland and had only been living in this state for only about 1 month. So certainly there was a lot of flight risk element to this person's bail.
I told the family that this was common for an Anne Arundel County commissioner to do for a bail like this. I explained that part of what the commissioners do is implement a shock factor to the defendant to really send a message. The family was not prepared to post a bail of this magnitude and I told them to just be patient and wait for bail review and the bail would be dropped back down to "reality." Sure enough, the following day, the bail was dropped down to $20,000.
It seems that in Anne Arundel County a large majority of bails that get set at insane amounts at the initial appearance for the most part get reduced by a district court judge. So keep this in mind if a family member or friend gets locked up and you are shocked at the initial bail amount. Go to bail review and get your bail brought back down to reality!