Judges sometimes set additional conditions to a judgment on bail, where on top of the bail amount that the defendant has to satisfy, the defendant is also obligated to adhere to certain conditions to keep enjoying his freedom. These are called bail conditions.
A judge can set any condition he or she deems is warranted, depending on the particular circumstances of each case. There are, however, a few common bail conditions that one finds attached to a judgment on bail:
- Regular reporting to the authorities. A defendant is simply required to check in periodically with the authorities as an assurance that he is still within the court’s jurisdiction. This is often a condition imposed on defendants considered to be a flight risk.
- Staying away from a specific person or persons. Typically, these types of conditions require a defendant to stay away or not to approach or otherwise not to contact identified persons, such as a witness in their case, or the victim. This is intended not only to safeguard the life and well-being of the witness or the victim, but it is also intended to prevent the defendant from committing further criminal activities. The court is, of course, also interested in making sure that the wheels of justice continue to turn by providing a certain level of protection to witnesses who may be giving testimony against a criminal defendant. This protection also extends to alleged victims of a crime so that they do not end up withdrawing their complaint under pressure of threats or other forms of possible harassment
- Prohibiting a defendant from drinking alcohol or using illicit substances while out on bail. This is a bail condition often seen in cases where charges of reckless or negligent conduct are brought against a defendant, where the alleged crime took place as a result of the defendant being under the influence of either drugs or alcohol. Typically, these kinds of charges are supplemented with a requirement to seek help by joining supportive groups that aim to address addictions or behavior issues. Similar conditions may also be added by the court in instances where the defendant has shown behavioral problems that may or may not be alcohol or drug-related. For instance, a court can require a defendant to seek help with anger management issues as a condition to his being released on bail. The interest of the court, in such instances, is to prevent the defendant from suffering from a lapse and once again committing a similar crime that may again be related to anger, alcohol, or drugs. If it is obvious that the defendant has a problem with any of these issues, compelling him to seek help also seeks to ensure the defendant’s continued well-being. And of course, these conditions also seek to protect public safety and welfare by making sure, as much as possible, that the defendant will no longer act recklessly, irresponsibly, or under the motivation of severe anger.
Breaking any of these conditions, or any other conditions that a judge may impose can cause the court to declare the bail as having been violated, otherwise also known as a breach of bail conditions. As a result, the defendant may be arrested on the charge of failing to comply with bail.
It is possible that a court may still grant a defendant bail after a breach of bail conditions, but only if the court determines that it is wise to do so. The defendant can usually expect, however, that the amount of bail will be raised to a higher amount, and other or additional bail conditions may be imposed by the court as further conditions for the defendant’s release.
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