What are Conditions of Bail?

Once bail has been set, there may also be non-monetary conditions added by the court in order to secure the defendant’s “pretrial release.”  These conditions may be considered necessary to prevent the accused from absconding (departing in a sudden and secret manner to avoid capture and legal prosecution), intimidating witnesses, endangering public safety, committing other offenses, or for the defendant’s personal protection.

The Bail Reform Act of 1984 stipulates that when the court releases a defendant before trial they will be subjected to the least restrictive conditions that will “reasonably assure their appearance as required,” as well as “the safety of any other person and the community.” Therefore, bail conditions cannot be more severe than is necessary and they must be clearly stated on the bail bond itself.  In some cases there may be no conditions that will adequately assure the accused will appear, or that public safety is guaranteed, and in this case the accused will be remanded to jail without bail to await trial.

Standard Bail Conditions

The judge, at his or her discretion, may set conditions about the conduct of a defendant while out on bail awaiting trial.  There are various types of conditions, which might require that the accused:

1. must report to police
2. must attend a rehabilitation or treatment program
3. must adhere to a specific curfew
4. must surrender their passport
5. must not contact the victim
6. must not contact witnesses (directly or indirectly)
7. must maintain current job or seek employment
8. must attend school
9. must not have any weapons in their possession
10. must not use drugs or alcohol – may include random testing
11. must not commit further offenses
12. must reside at a specific address
13. must remain within certain jurisdictions

Examples of Conditions

If a defendant is young and without supervision, or is new to the area, they might be required to keep up attendance at school or maintain their job and regularly report to a probation officer or bail agent.  The person to whom they report might also be requested to stay in close touch and possibly assist the defendant with arranging transportation to their appearances in court.

If there is a prior charge of failing to appear or a current disregard of conditions, the defendant may be ordered to “house arrest” and only be allowed leave with permission to go to school or work.  If the accused has a history of addiction, they may also be required to have counseling, attend AA meetings or participate in treatment.  With a domestic case, the defendant may be specifically prohibited from entering the house of the victim.

Bail is a choice, nobody can force you to accept bail and thereby live under the conditions the court has set. However, in order to get out of jail and enjoy your freedom in between the court appearances, you must abide by all of the rules dictated by the bail conditions.

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