When a person is arrested, the judge will weigh out whether or not to release the defendant, or hold them on bail. This is heavily dependent on the charges and the nature of the alleged crime. If the judge chooses not to release the defendant, then a monetary amount to be paid, known as bail, will be set. The bail amount depends on a number of factors considered by the judge. A high bail amount can limit a defendant's access to their attorney and other resources to help their case, as they will be held under police custody until they can make their bail amount. In Northampton County, bail negotiations are conducted in court, however, the initial filing takes place within the Pretrial Services department of the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas, located in Easton, PA.
Bail Reduction in Northampton County
When a defendant wishes to reduce their bail, they must petition the court through the filing of a motion. A high bail amount can mean a defendant must take out bail bonds or undergo debt in order to gain an edge on their case. The court will consider the following when reducing bail:
- Whether or not a defendant poses a "flight risk"
- The nature of the crime that the defendant is facing charges for
- Whether or not the defendant poses a risk to the community
The court's initial bail is often set based on a combination of the above factors, as well.
Hearings for Reducing Bail in Northampton County
A defendant can prepare a motion to reduce bail and file it with the court, however, this will often include a hearing as well. A hearing for bail reduction will take place with the same judge that initially set the bail and handled the arraignment. Hearings will be attended by the defendant, and most likely the prosecutor for the case as well. While the defendant is entitled to fair argument and attorney representation, the prosecutor may choose to argue against. The judge will consider the evidence and arguments from both sides, and make a decision at the close of the hearing whether or not to grant the motion.
Reducing bail is key to ultimately developing a case. A high bail poses a threat to a defendant's ability to access their attorney and any other resources they may need to build a successful case. In addition to this, retaining an attorney as early on as the bail and arraignment phases allows the attorney more time with the case, which will ultimately strengthen their ability to defend the case in court.