What Does a Bail Commissioner Do?

In the state of Maine, there is what is known as a bail commissioner, who is appointed by the chief judge of the district courts. Bail commissioners serve no longer than five years, and there may be more than one bail commissioner at a time.

The main responsibility of a bail commissioner is to set the amount of preconviction bail or bond for criminal defendants. He can do this even outside of a courtroom, such as in a police station, before arraignment. He may set the amount of bail, or he may make a recommendation to the judge for the amount of the preconviction bail. Bail commissioners are granted this authority to assist court judges in one of their functions, which is in determining the amount of bail. Interestingly, a bail commissioner also has the authority to order the release of a defendant from jail on his own personal recognizance. Otherwise, the bail Commissioner may then make the appropriate recommendations to the sitting judge.

There are some limitations to the power of bail commissioners, which include the inability to set preconviction bail for those who are charged with murder or other capital offense, or if bail has already been essentially set by the court.

Interested now in becoming a bail commissioner? Judges do not have unlimited discretion in who they can appoint as bail commissioners, and aspiring candidates are required to undergo a bail training program to be considered as qualified.