Bail in Philadelphia is set at the time of arraignment. If bail is set, it is either a monetary cash bail where you are required to post funds to be released or unsecured also known as “SOB” bail, Sign Own Bond, where you are not required to post funds and essentially promise to pay the amount if you violate the bail conditions. Bail is used as a security method to ensure that a defendant who is released from jail pending their criminal trial will appear at court proceedings in the future and act in accordance with conditions of bail that are set by a bail commissioner. In sum, bail is supposed to ensure the defendants appearance in court and the safety of the community.
Article 1 Section 14 of the Pennsylvania Constitution ensures the right to bail. However, the right to bail is not available to those incarcerated for a capital offense or crimes punishable by a sentence of life in prison. This right is also unavailable to those who pose a danger to the community and in situations in which incarceration is the only way to ensure the safety of others.
Additionally, the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits excessive bail. However, even when a set bail is not considered excessive, there are situations in which defendants cannot afford bail. When a person is incarcerated awaiting trial for their alleged commission of a felony and is entitled to bail, they may be entitled to release under Rule 600 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure.
When someone is charged with a felony, they will attend multiple hearings before their criminal trial. If the defendant is entitled to bail, it will be set at the preliminary arraignment. The bail commissioner will typically set bail based on two factors:
When a defendant makes bail, they pay the court money or give the court an interest in their property. Bail is paid in the basement of the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia. This payment is made in exchange for the defendant's release from pre-trial incarceration. For the rest of the case, the court keeps the money or property interest and refunds it once the case is over. The refund is only guaranteed if the defendant follows their conditions of release and appears in court. If the defendant violates any conditions of bail or fails to appear in court when required, the bail is revoked, and the payment is forfeited.
Although many defendants accused of committing felonies are entitled to bail, some defendants are not released because they cannot afford to pay the bail set at the preliminary arraignment. When a defendant cannot afford their bail, they may still be protected from remaining in jail prior to their trial under the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 600.
Rule 600 protects defendants' right to a speedy trial and the right to release from jail prior to their criminal trial when a certain amount of time has been exceeded.
Rule 600(B) applies to those defendants who are sitting in jail on felony charges and awaiting trial. The rule states that those defendants who are entitled to bail and awaiting trial cannot be held in jail for a time exceeding:
Once the defendant is held in jail, the case must proceed to trial within the time periods listed in Rule 600(B). However, while the defendant cannot be held in jail for a period to exceed the time limits, any period of delay caused by the defendant or the defendant’s criminal defense attorney, such as filing a motion for continuance, is excludable. The exclusion means that these periods of delay will not be part of the calculation of time for which the defendant has been incarcerated prior to trial.
Rule 600(D) provides remedies for violations for sections A and B. As to section B, 600(D) states that at any time before trial, the defendant’s attorney may file a written motion requesting that the defendant be released immediately on nominal bail. Even if the defendant is released for violation of Rule 600(B), they still must abide by any non-monetary conditions of the bail imposed by the court.
Rule 600 protects those accused of crimes from cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the United States Constitution. No defendant who has not been convicted of a capital crime should suffer the psychological stress that results from sitting in jail for long periods of time while awaiting trial. If you have a warrant out for your arrest or you have a family member who has been charged with a crime, call the office of Wimmer Criminal Defense Law. Criminal Defense Attorney Lauren Wimmer will protect you or your family member's right to be released from jail after 120 or 180 days, depending on the circumstances.
Attorney Lauren Wimmer has defended countless defendants in federal and states court who have been charged with misdemeanors and felonies, including drug offenses and murder. A Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer understand the tactics that the District Attorney uses when prosecuting individuals for various crimes. Through her experience as a judicial law clerk in the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Trial Division, Lauren Wimmer developed a thorough understanding of how the Philadelphia criminal justice system operations. You have rights when you are charged with criminal offenses, and Wimmer Criminal Defense Law is here to protect them. If you need an experienced criminal defense attorney, contact Wimmer Criminal Defense Law by calling 215-712-1212 or visiting our website today.