Every person who is arrested in Maryland is entitled to appear before a judge within 24 hours of arrest. The judge's duties at the bond hearing depend on whether the defendant was arrested on a warrant, or by a state or local police officer without a warrant. If a person is arrested by a police officer, without a warrant, one of the main functions of the first appearance judge is to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed a crime. A Maryland criminal lawyer may appear at the first bail review hearing and argue that there was no probable cause to make the arrest. A defendant who is arrested without probable cause will be released on his or her own recognizance, and with no conditions of supervision. If a person is arrested on a warrant the judge is not required to make a probable cause determination, but must inform the defendant of the charges that he or she is facing, as well as the maximum penalties that each of the charged crimes carries under state law. The judge must also provide the defendant with a copy of the charging document if one is available. If a district court judge conducts the first appearance hearing on a felony, the judge will inform the defendant that he or she has a right to a preliminary hearing in circuit court within 10 days. The judge will then determine if the defendant is eligible for pretrial release.
There are detailed laws about which defendants will be eligible for pretrial release. A bail bond lawyer can appear at the first appearance and argue that the judge should grant pretrial release. Pretrial release is available to most defendants unless they are facing life in prison or are charged with escape from a correctional facility. Defendants that are charged with more serious crimes such as violent felonies, drug kingpin crimes, and crimes involving firearms, weapons, and handguns may not be eligible for pretrial release. The judge will look at the defendant's prior criminal record, and may be prohibited under state law from granting pretrial release to defendants that are charged with these crimes. A judge may also be prohibited from granting pretrial release to a defendant who was arrested for a criminal charge such as burglary, while that defendant was out on bail on another crime. The extent of the supervision level for a defendant placed on pretrial release also depends on the nature of the crime, and whether there is an alleged victim in the crime. The judge may order certain conditions such as home detention and or GPS monitoring, and in crimes where there is an alleged victim the judge will issue a no contact order. A defendant who is placed on pretrial release should treat his or her supervision as being placed on probation, because a pretrial release violation will typically result in arrest, and being held in custody until the case is resolved. An experienced lawyer may still be able to reinstate pretrial release at a hearing in front of a judge, depending on the nature of the pretrial release violation.
If the defendant is eligible for pretrial release the judge may also order the defendant to post a bond to assure presence at future court dates. The amount of the bail bond is typically is dictated by a standard schedule. The bond schedule has a standard amount for each crime, and more serious crimes with greater maximum punishments have higher bond amounts. A judge is allowed to deviate from the bond schedule, and may take into account such factors as the defendant's ties to the community, prior criminal record, recommendations of the prosecutor, and arguments presented by the criminal defense lawyer. If you or someone you know has been arrested, or has a warrant out for his or her arrest, contact a defense lawyer immediately. The Herbst Firm can appear at the first hearing and argue for pretrial release. We can also schedule a hearing with the judge that will be presiding over the criminal case, and argue for a lower bail bond and less strict pretrial release conditions.