Once a person is arrested, if they are to be held in the custody of the court, the court will usually create an amount of money that a defendant must pay in order for their release. This monetary hurdle is known as "bail." Bail is assigned in varying amounts, but the most heavily considered factors are a defendant's risk for fleeing, and the judge's opinion on whether or not a defendant poses a threat to the community as a whole. The Bail Judgement Division of the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas is responsible for any and all discussion regarding a defendant's bail judgement.
Motion to Reduce Bail in Philadelphia County
A judge may decide to set a high bail for a defendant when it is believed that their actions make them a threat to the community, or if the judge believes the defendant is likely to flee the county. A high bail means that a person or their family may need to take on debt or bail bonds in order to release the defendant. When a person wishes to reduce bail, the court will consider the following:
- The defendant's "flight risk," or likelihood of fleeing law enforcement before standing trial
- The degree of violence or impact left by the defendant's alleged crime
- Any arguments or evidence shown in a petition for bail reduction
- The criminal charges that the defendant faces
Bail Reduction Hearings in Philadelphia
Bail reduction is argued through the filing of a motion, and many times, the court may decide to have a brief hearing to determine the success of the motion. Hearings will be held by the same judge who set the bail, and handled the arraignment. Defendants may have representation at this hearing. The prosecutor handling the case may also be in attendance as well, and will likely argue against the reduction of the bail amount. These hearings are dependent on the judge's decision, however, the judge will also weigh out the arguments and evidence in the case.
At hearings, the negotiation of bail is best left to an experienced criminal defense attorney. While a public defender may suffice, they are likely to be taking on a number of cases with similar predicaments. Not only can a private attorney provide a proper argument for bail reduction, but also the earlier on an attorney is involved in a defendant's case, the greater the defendant's chances are at a more favorable outcome for the entire case. In addition to this, negotiating a lower bail means that a defendant can likely be released on bail, which means that they will have more freedom to help build their defense for their case.