Bail for a detained defendant in Maine can be set by two personalities: the Bail Commissioner, or the Judge. In either case, bail cannot be allowed if the defendant is charged with certain offences, including felony assault, felony sexual assault, violating a protection from abuse order, kidnapping, criminal restraint involving a child under eight years of age, and most domestic violence felonies.
The great thing about bail laws in Maine is that effort has been made to be more responsive to the needs of the community. In 2012, private bail bond companies or agencies were prohibited from operating in the state. And because of cases of domestic violence which resulted in homicide, most felony cases involving domestic violence are now considered non-bailable. These include stalking, threatening, terrorizing, and reckless conduct. While not all domestic violence crimes are non-bailable, even misdemeanors like assault will still get increased scrutiny by the Bail Commissioner and the judge. In any case, it has been provided that no bail will be granted to a domestic violence case unless sufficient inquiry has been made into the history of the abuser, any existing protection orders of bail and probation conditions, the name and contact information of the victim, and the severity of the alleged offense. All of these measures were undertaken to safeguard the lives of domestic abuse victims, in response to incidences of domestic violence cases which resulted in homicide.
The Bail Commissioner has discretion regarding the amount of bail to be set. In any case, if the defendant cannot make his bail, or is not granted bail by the Bail Commissioner, he is entitled to appear before a judge within 48 hours from incarceration, not taking into consideration holidays and weekends. This is provided for in the Maine Rules of Criminal Procedure.
The defendant’s first appearance before the judge is usually at his bail hearing, during which time his counsel can argue either that bail be granted, or that the amount of bail be reduced. Conversely, prosecutors may ask that bail be denied, or should bail be granted, that it come with certain conditions or stipulations. The judge makes his determination based on the arguments of both sides, regardless of what the bail commissioner may have provided for in terms of the defendant’s bail. Sometimes, the prosecutor and the defense counsel can meet beforehand to agree on a bail amount and any possible terms. This is certainly allowed, and might even prevent the judge from setting bail that is excessive or at an amount that not even the prosecution would recommend. In any case, the judge is also expected to inquire into the background facts before setting the bail amount. This inquiry can include the defendant’s history, and whether or not he has had any record for any criminal charges in the past.
If you don’t violate the conditions of your bail, then the amount you have put up for bail will be returned to you at the completion of the hearing. Remember, however, that the amount given back to you will include deductions for any court fees or charges, which will be automatically taken out from your cash bond.