Nearly everyone knows the iconic phrase – “innocent until proven guilty” – which is a huge tenet of the U.S. Justice System. If you’ve ever been arrested for a crime, however, then you know first hand that this important ideal doesn’t feel like it plays out in reality. That’s because you get immediately taken to jail, and you’ll be required to meet a bail payment if you want to experience freedom before getting your fair shot at justice during a criminal hearing.
Your initial bail hearing may be more important than you think. For instance, if your bail gets set too high, then you may be stuck in prison or jail until the date of your hearing. For many incarcerated individuals, that means months behind bars. Even if that person is innocent, spending that long imprisoned will inevitably impact their career, personal relationships, mental health, and life.
If you’re later found innocent at your hearing, then you won’t be compensated for your time in jail.
If your bail is set at a reasonable amount, then you’ll have the opportunity to meet bail and experience freedom until your trial. You can utilize that time to not only come up with a solid defense strategy but also to continue to live your life and plan for the future. You’ll be able to maintain a job, continue thriving in your personal relationships, and even take steps that could potentially reduce any criminal penalties you face if you get convicted.
Recent changes in New York will help give judges more discretion when it comes to setting bail amounts. This policy change comes as part of a budget deal decided upon by the state Legislature.
If approved, then this new policy change would reduce the current requirement that judges pick the least restrictive way to ensure defendants return to court. Under this standard, it’s often considered “preferable” to release defendants on bail, but once it’s removed, more accused individuals could find themselves behind bars until their trial.
Should You Hire a Lawyer Before Your Bail Hearing?
Bail is slowly becoming more and more of a political issue in New York. GOP lawmakers are continuously prioritizing the community’s safety, while Democratic lawmakers tend to prioritize the rights of the accused. Balancing these two very important priorities is no easy task, which explains why the laws surrounding bail have been in such a state of flux over the past few years.
Considering all this, it might be in your best interests to hire a good criminal defense attorney even before your bail hearing. If you have a lawyer present at your bail hearing, then you have a better opportunity at securing a bail deal that’s in your favor. Your lawyer can advocate for you as well as argue against any unfair bail amount that gets set by a judge. Since judges currently have more discretion with bail amounts, your lawyer’s input is more valuable than in the past.
If you’re in New York and you’re facing an upcoming bail hearing, then we invite you to contact our law firm to learn more about your legal options.