Bail Requirements in Pennsylvania

Money and a gavel

If you get arrested please remember my silence is golden rule – do not give any statements or speak to anyone without your attorney present. Do not even discuss the facts of the case over the phone with your family, since most conversations in a correctional facility are recorded. Do not apologize, express regret or anything that makes you sound guilty.

It normally takes 24 to 48 hours for the District Justice in the town you were arrested in to set bail. Bail will be based on the severity of the crime, the number of counts and if this is your first offense. If the District Justice reviews all the factors above and finds that you have no criminal record and you are neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community, the District Justice may release you on a personal recognizance bond. That means you are released on your signature.

The specific purpose of a bond is to assure that you appear at court and answer the charges. A District Justice may consider “the nature and circumstances of the charges, the weight of the evidence, the history and characteristics of the putative offender and the danger to the community.” U.S. v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739 (1987). Prior criminal history and your personal characteristics are the most important factors the District Justice uses to set the bail amount. Your prior criminal history is going to involve anything you have ever been arrested for. It doesn’t matter if you were a juvenile or if it happened in another state. The District Justice can review anything that may help in determining if you are a danger to the community. When examining the characteristics of a defendant, the judge will want to know if you have a job, and how long have you been working for that employer. Do you own a home or rent? Are you married? Do you have any children? Where did you go to high school? What are your ties to the community? In other words, how much skin do you have in the game and how much will you lose if you decide to run? The judge will weigh all these factors to determine how high the bond will be. Obviously, the more serious the crime, the higher the bond.

You may not be entitled to bail if you are already on probation or parole for another offense. Probation is court supervision in lieu of incarceration. Parole is early release from prison for good behavior. In both cases, committing a new offense is considered a new violation. Under these conditions you may be given a bond on the new violation but may be held with no bond on the old offense since you violated the condition s of your probation or parole. However, your lawyer may be able to persuade the District Justice for a bond on the old case based on your specific facts and circumstances.

Immigration status is another factor that may affect your ability to get a bond. If you are not a U.S. citizen, Immigration and Customs Enforcement may place a detainer on you until your case is adjudicated. This includes legal permanent residents who are in the United States with a valid visa or green card. If you are arrested or have any questions about bail, please call Gregory J. Spadea at 610-521-0604 of Spadea & Associates, LLC in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania.

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