After someone is arrested, they will be scheduled for their first court appearance. This is typically within days after an arrest and will provide information about whether or not this individual is eligible for bail and early release. Before showing up for this appearance, also known as a bail hearing, make sure you have the proper documentation ready.
After being arrested, the first appearance in front of the judge is called the arraignment. This is also a bail hearing, if you are indeed eligible for bail. During the arraignment, the charges will be brought to the judge and they will use your criminal history and these charges as reasoning for whether or not bail is set, and how much it will be for. Typically, the arraignment only includes the defendant, defense attorney, prosecuting attorney and the judge.
Things to Know About the Arraignment
Before you arrive at the arraignment, there are some things you should be aware of. First of all, you or your attorney cannot plead your case during this hearing. This is only to hear the charges being brought against you and for the judge to decide on the bail, hence the term bail hearing. However, while your attorney can’t try to argue your case at this time, they can urge the judge to choose bail if you are not a flight risk, as well as arguing the amount that bail is set for.
How to Prepare For the Hearing
Because your lawyer is able to try and argue bail for you, you have a short window before the hearing to contact family and friends. Give their names and numbers to your attorney so he or she can get character references. These will be used to reduce bail or try to get you bail in the first place. There should be some evidence that you are not a flight risk, which can also be determined from the people you are in contact with. Some documentation you should have before the hearing is school records, your work history and name of your employer, any organizations you belong to in your community, such as PTA or volunteering, and anything that proves what kind of lifestyle you lead.
What to Do During the Hearing
There isn’t much you can really do to help your case, but there are things that can hurt it. Make sure to always be polite and respectful to the judge, your attorney and anyone else present in the courtroom. Avoid any type of disturbance, outbursts, talking out of turn, or disrespectful body language. Believe it or not, these things can really hurt you when deciding if you get bail and how much bail will be set for. During the hearing, stand straight with your arms down and respond immediately if you are asked a question.
As long as you prepare ahead of time, there is a good chance you will get bail. The best way to prepare is by providing your attorney with references so they can be used for lowering your bail.