If you are accused of a crime, before any of the TV-show-exaggerated courtroom scenes take a grip on your mind, there will be a relatively straightforward — yet incredibly important — proceeding called a bail hearing. One of the things that happens at this hearing is what gives it its name: your bail will be set at a certain financial threshold, and paying the bail will allow you to leave jail (though the charges will still hang over you and there will be further legal action to come).
But there are other crucial elements that happen at this hearing. Logistical elements are set in motion, and pieces of evidence that led to the probable cause involved in the case are reviewed and either upheld or denied. So why is this important?
Well, prior to July 1, 2014, there was no right for an individual to have an attorney present at a bail hearing. After that fateful day though, Maryland law was changed to reflect this important right that a person accused of a crime truly needs. The bail hearing is far more important than its rudimentary nature would make it appear.
We bring all of this up not just to highlight the importance of seemingly basic element in the criminal justice system, but as a reminder that even the simplest parts of the criminal justice system are very important to the overall process. The slightest of missteps by the police or the prosecution could lead to dropped charges or a dismissed case.