When a defendant is released on bail, it often happens that in addition to the bail amount, the judge adds certain conditions that the defendant is expected to adhere to.
These bail conditions are not random conditions simply thrown out by a judge on a whim. They are often based on the specific circumstances leading to the charges pending against the defendant. For instance, a person who has been charged with a DUI may be released on bail on the condition that he go to counseling for his drinking problem. As with most of the decisions that a judge makes when setting bail, these conditions are intended to:
- Keep the defendant from committing any further crimes while out on bail
- Protect the public against any danger that the defendant might pose
- Ensure that the defendant does not skip bail
Below are some of the more common bail conditions that a judge might impose:
- That the defendant not be allowed to communicate with the complainant or the alleged victim
- That the defendant not be allowed to communicate with other co-defendants
- To seek help or counseling for a problem (i.e., drinking problem, substance abuse problem)
- To keep or maintain a certain distance from a specific place or person
- Not to leave town
- To keep living at a specific address
- To follow the rules of curfew and not be out of the house at specific hours of the night.
- Adhere to house arrest rules where his freedom to leave the house and communicate with others may be limited.
- To be in court at a specific date
- That the defendant report to the police at certain intervals of time
- For the defendant to surrender their passport
- To remain at home or not to go near a place or person if the defendant is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- That the defendant does not drive a motor vehicle
There are certainly many more types of conditions that a judge can impose, either to do something or not to do something, and a judge can certainly be very creative in the imposition of bail conditions if he or she feels that such conditions will help the defendant. Usually, however, such conditions are still logically inferred from the charges that the defendant is being charged with.
The thing to remember about these bail conditions is that they are legally binding. Many times, a defendant may simply agree to the entirety of the bail and its conditions because he or she wants to go free as soon as possible, without really fully understanding the import of having additional conditions attached to their bail.
If you break any of the conditions of your bail, this can lead to a re-arrest (or a warrant of arrest being issued against you), a cancellation of the order of release on bail, additional charges, and quite possibly a higher bail amount, additional conditions, or a denial of bail altogether.
The relevance of bail conditions is often easy to understand. If the judge orders you to stay away or refrain from contacting a specific person, for instance, the complainant, violating this order and contacting that person anyway could lead to charges of harassment or trespassing, which act may be construed as a danger to the public. And a judge can certainly take measures to prevent this.
On the other hand, attending counseling for alcohol abuse, for instance, may seem to some like a negligible condition, and not all that serious. But a judge who orders such a condition as part of your bail also has the safety and welfare of both the defendant and the public in mind, by ordering alcoholics to get help, and to keep people who drink and drive off of the roads.
A defendant can no longer later claim that he did not agree to any of the bail conditions and that therefore his violation of any of these conditions should not be taken against him. This is not a valid excuse. These were the conditions upon which the defendant was released, and when he was released, it is to be assumed that he agreed to the conditions imposed upon him.
If you feel that the conditions of your bail are completely unworkable for you, and wish to seek a change, alteration or modification to your bail conditions, you can file an application for bail review. However, this is not a relief that will be granted to you as a matter of right. The court may not agree with your arguments and therefore may not agree to introduce changes to your bail conditions.
If you have been released on bail and do not understand what some of the conditions attached to your bail mean, or what the effects are of you breaking them, you can contact your bail bondsman, who will be more than willing to answer your questions and guide you. In fact, some bail bondsmen who are interested in the welfare of their clients take a more active hand in ensuring that the defendant complies with his bail conditions by offering reminders and making sure that the defendant does not break any of his bail conditions.