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Hartford, CT criminal law attorney bailMost people have a basic understanding of how the criminal process works: you are charged with a crime, you must appear in court, a judge or jury determines whether or not you are guilty, and if you are convicted, you serve your sentence. But what happens before any of that even begins? Before you can appear in court to address criminal charges, you will have to attend a pretrial release hearing. During this hearing, a judge will determine whether or not to release you before your trial and whether there should be any conditions on your release. Typically, this is where bail comes in to play.

What Is Pretrial Detention?

The term pretrial detention refers to the period of time that a person is incarcerated before they attend their trial. At the pretrial release hearing, the judge will set bail, which is a monetary amount that you must pay before you can be released. In Connecticut, there are two different types of bail:

  1. A person may pay the amount of bail in cash. This amount will be returned to the accused as long as they return to court for their trial; otherwise, the money is forfeited.
  2. If a person is unable to afford the full amount of bail, they may have a bail bondsman post bail for them. They will be required to pay a surety bond to the bail bondsman, which is typically 10% of the amount of bail. Bail bondsmen can be used in state crimes, but they cannot be used by those who are arrested for a federal crime.

The Issues With the Current Bail and Pretrial Detention System

Between 1970 and 2015, there was a 433% increase in the average number of people in pretrial detention throughout the United States. Bail is one of the biggest reasons for this increase. The average amount of bail for a felony charge ranges from $10,000 to $12,000. Since many people cannot afford to pay this amount, they end up spending weeks or even months in jail while waiting for their trial to take place.

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