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In the United States, you always have the right to be represented by a defense attorney in criminal cases, and for good reasons. The law is complex, and few people without training know how to represent themselves, especially when going up against an experienced prosecutor. Why, then, do so many people wait until after a bail hearing to retain a lawyer?
Often people assume that a bail hearing goes more or less the same way no matter what, but this is a false perception. A bail hearing is a court procedure just like any other, such as a trial or sentencing. This means that the judge has significant leeway to decide what your bail should be—and even if you deserve to get bail. Without an experienced criminal lawyer who knows about your personal situation, your background, and your case, you most likely will find yourself with a worse deal that you could have with the support of a dedicated attorney who is focused on your case.
After all, if you don’t hire an attorney for your bail hearing, most court will appoint one. This court-appointed attorney may be there to argue at your bail hearing along with many other cases all day long. It’s likely that this lawyer hasn’t had adequate time to review your case prior to the hearing. In fact, these attorneys usually meet you for the first time in court.
Bail is set by judges based on a set of considerations that include the severity of your crime and the likelihood that you will return as expected on your court date. While a court-appointed lawyer may have plenty of experience figuring out a general “good bail” for our crime, they know nothing about you personally. This means that they cannot argue your bail based on community ties that would make you less likely to flee, such as having a job, a family, or other responsibilities in the community.
Often these are important deciding factors for judges. A judge who knows that you have a habit of following through on your responsibilities based on your personal history is significantly more likely to post a lower, more affordable bail. When you hire an attorney, these are some of the first questions they will ask you, assuring that your bail is lower. They may even be able to fight for you to be released on your own recognizance, which means that you will not have to pay for bail at all. Simply hiring an attorney right away shows the judge that you understand the seriousness of the charges against you and that you are proactively attempting to resolve them. This goes a long way in reducing bail.
Furthermore, some good deals that you can get to avoid jail time or lessen charges against you may only be available before your arraignment. This needs to be discussed as soon as possible. For example, some courts only permit a technical defect in the prosecution’s case to be raised prior to entering a plea. Similarly, some prosecutor’s offices may offer the best deals to defendants who plead guilty at their arraignments. If you are unaware of this, you could suffer a worse by delaying a potential guilty plea until after the arraignment. These factors need to be considered immediately since putting off hiring a lawyer until after your bail hearing could hurt your case later.
Only an experienced Ohio criminal defense lawyer is able to get you the best deal both at the bail hearing and afterwards. If you have been arrested in Columbus or the surrounding areas in Ohio, call Ohio criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Luftman at Luftman, Heck & Associates today: .