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At one point in the 1983 classic The Outsiders, Dallas tries to talk Johnny out of turning himself in for a gang-related murder. “You don’t know what a few months in jail can do to you, man,” he implored. Dallas was by no means a medical doctor, so he probably had no idea how right he was.
When the cell doors close, stress hormone production increases exponentially. Prolonged exposure to these hormones alters brain chemistry, leading to personality changes and other effects. So, many former inmates are not the same when they come out. While they are in jail, the elevated stress level makes it difficult to make good decisions, such as whether to follow sound advice from a St. Paul criminal defense lawyer.
So, prompt jail release is not just important for personal and professional reasons. It’s also important for health and legal reasons. In Ramsey County, there are several different jail release options.
OR (Own Recognizance) release is the newest jail release option in Minnesota. Recently, some people have criticized the current cash bail system. In Minnesota, 60 percent of county jail residents are unsentenced inmates waiting for trial. Rather disturbingly, that’s one of the lowest percentages in the country. In most cases, these individuals are not security risks. They simply do not have bail money.
In response to these criticisms, some states, like California and New York, have essentially ended the cash bail system. Minnesota lawmakers have not gone that far. However, they have substantially expanded the state’s pretrial release program.
Typically, first-time offenders charged with nonviolent misdemeanors might be eligible for OR release. These defendants promise to appear at trial, and the sheriff releases them.
Although there is no formal hearing, a St. Paul criminal defense lawyer often advocates for inmates before the review board. If nothing else, the fact that a defendant has an attorney shows the board that the defendant takes the matter seriously.
Despite the recent expansion, most inmates are not eligible for pretrial release, due to a criminal record or the nature of the charges against them.
Fortunately, the traditional cash bail system is still in place in Ramsey County. Shortly after an arrest, the sheriff usually applies presumptive bail amounts to individual cases. That amount might be $750 for a misdemeanor and $1,500 for a felony. Defendants who pay this money, which is like a rental property security deposit, are released. Before they stand trial, they must comply with a number of conditions, including:
Some cases include offense-specific conditions. Examples include a no-contact order in an assault case and an Ignition Interlock Device requirement in a DWI case.
Assuming the defendant complies with all conditions and shows up at all required hearings, the sheriff refunds most of the money when the case is resolved.
Unfortunately, for most people, fifteen hundred dollars might as well be fifteen million. A St. Paul criminal defense attorney can usually help these defendants obtain a bail bond. Bonding companies basically write insurance policies which guarantee the defendant’s appearance at trial and compliance with bail conditions. Most bonding companies charge about a fifteen percent premium.
In most cases, the bonding company assumes all the financial risk. Defendants need not put up collateral. That’s especially important in criminal sexual conduct and other very serious cases which might have very high bail amounts.
In some cases, the presumptive amounts do not apply. Or, they are unaffordably high, even for a bail bond. At a subsequent bail reduction hearing, which usually occurs during the arraignment, a St. Paul criminal defense lawyer can argue for a bail reduction.
The presumptive amount usually only considers the nature of the offense and the defendant’s criminal record. At the bail reduction hearing, a St. Paul criminal defense lawyer can bring up other factors as well, such as:
It’s easier to obtain a lower bail if the defendant is willing to follow some additional conditions, such as electronic monitoring.
Pretrial release is usually available, and affordable, in most criminal cases. For a free consultation with an experienced St. Paul criminal defense lawyer, contact Capitol City Law Group, LLC. Go online now, call us at (651) 998-7634, or stop by 287 6th St E, Suite 20, St Paul, MN 55101.