Understanding Maine’s Bail Bond System - Ashe Law Offices

If you have been arrested in Maine, your first real interaction with the justice system is likely to be your arraignment and bail hearing. This is when you are formally charged and given a chance to stay out of jail until your next court date through the bail bond system. This article aims to help you understand this system, the stakes involved, and the possible outcomes and aftermath of being released on bail, including:

  • When you might need to post bail and how you can do so after being arrested in Maine.
  • How bail can help you stay out of jail in Maine, and why you will want to do so.
  • What happens after you leave jail on bail.

What Is Bail Or Bond In The Criminal Justice System?

If you have been arrested, you may be given the opportunity to post bail. This is a contract, more or less, between yourself as the defendant and the state as the prosecution. The prosecution proposes the terms of this contract, but they are ultimately determined by a judge.

If accepted by the judge, you will be required to put up some kind of money as collateral for your appearance in court, agree to follow some conditions, or both, as determined by the judge. So long as you do so, you can remain free in the community while your case is pending.

Who Has Access To Bail And Bond In Maine?

In Maine, almost everyone who has not yet been convicted of a crime has a right to bail. This does not mean that everyone actually gets to take advantage of it, however.

Unfortunately, in Maine, you do not have access to bail bondsmen like you might in many other states. This means you cannot post only a small percentage of the bond amount requested by the court to be released. You have to post the whole amount.

Tragically, this results in a large number of people who end up sitting in jail simply because they were too poor to pay the bail requested. You could end up staying there for weeks or even months on a $500-$1000 bail for a simple misdemeanor.

Failing to make bail or bond after an arrest can thus have a very serious impact on your personal and professional life.

Are All Charges Bondable Offenses?

While some people are not able to afford to post bond after an arrest, others will simply not be given the option. If you are already on probation (or out on bail) when arrested for a crime, you will often be held without bail.

Additionally, under some circumstances, and for some types of crimes, bail or bond may not be offered to you out of fear of flight or recidivism.

What Are The Types Of Bond Or Bail Available After Arrest In Maine?

When you are initially arrested in Maine, you will first be taken to jail and then booked. Very shortly thereafter, a bail commissioner will visit and set your initial bail after negotiating with your defense attorney. They will settle on one of three different types of bond:

  • Personal Recognizance

This means the court is taking your word that you will come back to court and follow all the required conditions.

  • Unsecured Bail

This is a rarer opportunity that has a cash amount that is simply never collected unless you fail to show up for your trial or break the conditions of your release.

  • Secured Bail

This is the system under which you actually have to hand over the amount of money requested by the court in order to be released. It is, understandably, the most restrictive.

Does Bail Or Bond Usually Come With Restrictions That Must Be Adhered To?

In addition to the type and amount of bail requested, there are often conditions imposed on your conduct in order to be released from jail in Maine. These conditions may vary based on your alleged crime and the circumstances surrounding it, but some common ones include:

  • Not possessing any dangerous weapons.
  • Not consuming or possessing any alcohol.
  • Installing some form of electronic monitoring system.
  • Being placed under house arrest.

The main condition of bail, however, is always the same: you must show up for court.

What Happens If I Do Not Make Bail Or Fail To Follow The Required Conditions For Release?

If you break the conditions of bail or are not able to post the bond in the first place, you will have to wait in jail throughout the course of the criminal investigation and court proceedings against you. This can have dire consequences.

You might very well lose your job and will certainly not be able to attend school if you are in jail. So it is highly likely to affect your career. It can also very easily hurt your personal life, as it will interfere with relationships, marriages, and your ability to raise your kids.

This is why it is so important to have a defense lawyer to help you get out of jail as fast as possible. Since almost anything can work as bail, a good lawyer will often be able to find a solution that either a prosecutor or judge is willing to sign off on to get you released on bail while your case is pending.

This also has the additional advantage of relieving some of the time pressure from your case. It is no longer vital to have it resolved as quickly as possible, which means your attorney can focus on building a stronger defense against the crimes you have been charged with while you continue about your day-to-day life.

What Else Will You Leave Jail With, In Terms Of Paperwork, Court Dates, And So Forth After Being Arrested In Maine?

The average person who gets arrested will be given a copy of the conditions of release form, which will specify whatever you have to do or avoid doing while the charges are pending against you. This could be as simple as avoiding all alcohol or not owning any dangerous weapons or as complex as avoiding all direct or indirect contact with a specific person. The latter is common in domestic violence crimes, where you cannot contact the alleged victim.

It is incredibly important that you follow any and all of the conditions listed on this firm. Remember: your release form is a contract, and your freedom is at stake. You can be arrested for violating any of the listed conditions and be sent right back to jail with no easy way out. After all, why would the state risk releasing you again on other conditions when you have already been proven unable or unwilling to follow the first set?

Your conditions of release form will also have your next court date on it, with the summons to appear on the date described. Once you get that paperwork, though, you are free to go, but that does not mean you are free to do whatever you want.

Once I'm Out Of Jail, How Do I Know What To Do Next?

If you are lost and do not know what to do next, don’t panic. Most people will not be familiar with the criminal justice system and how to navigate it. Instead of panicking or trying to do everything yourself, you should talk to a defense attorney.

While trying to resolve your situation on your own can feel proactive, it can actually hurt your case. Just as self-diagnosis can be counterproductive and even deadly when individuals try to avoid doctors and figure out their own health conditions, you should entrust a criminal charge to someone who actually has the training necessary to do so.

When you Google things, you will lack the knowledge and experience to know what you are looking for, how to assess any information you find, and what to do with any insights you gather. Instead of googling your charges, look up reputable defense lawyers in your area so you can talk to someone who has made a career dealing with exactly this type of problem.

Why Is It So Important To Get An Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer In Maine?

Maine has 16 counties, and with a little bit of research, you can find a lawyer who has practiced in yours – or even in all of them. This is important because every country is just a little bit different in terms of how they deal with things and those subtle differences can have a big impact on your case if your lawyer knows how to use them to your advantage.

Brand new lawyers barely know anything about criminal law, much less how it is practiced in a specific real-world court and context. Meanwhile, a big-name lawyer from another county, or worse, another state, will not be specialized in dealing with exactly your situation, nor will they be able to leverage local knowledge and connections to get you a better outcome. Don’t make the mistake of choosing to work with a generic lawyer – work with someone whose experience is directly tailored to finding the outcome you need. For more information on The Bail Bond Process In The State Of Maine, an initial consultation is your next best step.

William Ashe, Esq Attorney - Criminal Defense Lawyer in Ellsworth Maine - Ashe Law Offices
Call Now To Speak With Attorney Ashe: (207) 813-2935

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