Bond hearings

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
When a suspect has been charged with a crime, a trial date is set by a judge at a hearing or arraignment. At this time, the judge will also decide whether or not the defendant is to be returned to custody or be released on bail until the trial. Bail is an amount of money, usually cash or cash equivalent, given to the court to ensure that the accused will appear for trial when ordered. When the defendant appears as ordered, the bail is returned, generally minus a small administrative fee. At the first hearing or arraignment, the judge sets the amount of bail, which can be paid in the form of a check or property for the full amount, or as a bond. In some cases, judges can waive payment of bail and release the defendant on his or her own recognizance. According to the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, bail may not be excessive, but only be sufficient to guarantee that the defendant will appear in court to stand trial. In some states, there's a standard schedule of bail amounts for certain crimes. If you can't afford to pay the stipulated amount, a judge can lower the bail, either at the arraignment itself or at a special bail hearing, depending on the state.
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