In the state of Maine, bail is set as a way to guarantee to the courts that you will return for your hearing. If you don’t post it, you will be held until the date of your trial. This could be relatively quickly, or it could literally takes months to happen. There are serious, potentially life-altering, consequences to not posting it – you could lose your job, you would be separated from your family. That is why it is so important to have a lawyer present at the time of your first appearance in front of a judge.
Why is important to have a lawyer at your bail hearing?
The amount of money you have to post can vary, and having an attorney beside you who can talk to the judge and explain the circumstances in your life that would be adversely affected if you were held until your hearing is incredibly helpful. Your lawyer can explain to the judge why it is in the best interest for everyone involved for you to be back at work and back with your children.
In today’s video, founding partner Merritt Heminway explains how it works, and how having an experienced lawyer on your side can help.
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To read the transcript of today’s video, please continue below:
Your first bail hearing is your first opportunity to get out of jail.
Almost all cases you are eligible for some kind of bail that the bail commissioner well set. If you were unable to bail yourself out or if you are charged with a crime that the bail commissioner is not allowed to bail you out, then you will be brought in front of a judge in Cumberland County Superior Court within two days. At that time, the judge will revisit bail. The bail commissioner had something to say about bail when you were first arrested, but now that you are in front of the judge, the judge will have the final word on bail.
The judge will often ask you to post money to secure your return to court. If you don’t return to court the state keeps your money. That’s the way it works. If you do return to court and that case is ultimately resolved by some sort of negotiation or by a jury trial, at the end of that case, your bail money will be returned to you.
And at that first appearance before a judge, it’s important to have an attorney. That’s your first bail hearing. That your first opportunity to get out of jail. And if you don’t get bailed out, you may be sitting in county jail for two months 4, 5, 6 all the way until that case goes to trial.
Therefore it’s critical that you get an attorney as soon as possible. We can do a bail argument for you and we can do an intelligent bail argument for you and bring into play what is exactly going on in your life. What your job is. What the actual consequences of you being in jail are.
If the judge doesn’t hear that story, the judge doesn’t know that story and you’re just another accused criminal. If you have a good attorney standing by your side at that bail argument, we can let the judge know exactly what’s going on. We can let the judge know that if he doesn’t bail you out, the kids won’t get fed. We can let the judge know that if he doesn’t bail you out you will lose your job. These are real consequences that happen to people all the time and you need an attorney next to you at that bail hearing.