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Bail in Pennsylvania

Bail in Pennsylvania | Philadelphia Bail Assignment Lawyer

When a defendant is charged with a crime, the first hearing in their case will be a Preliminary Arraignment. Unless the defendant is charged for a capital crime such as murder or a charge carrying life imprisonment, the defendant is entitled to reasonable bail. The right to bail is solidified in the United States Constitution, the Pennsylvania Constitution and the PA Rules of Criminal Procedure.

42 PA.C.S. § 5701: Right to bail.

All prisoners shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, unless:

(1) for capital offenses or for offenses for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment; or

(2) no condition or combination of conditions other than imprisonment will reasonably assure the safety of any person and the community when the proof is evident or presumption great.

At a preliminary arraignment, a bail commissioner will set bail based on a variety of factors including:

  • Nature of the charges;

  • Prior criminal history;

  • Danger to the public;

  • Employment;

  • Education;

  • Family responsibilities and ties to the community;

  • Prior failures to appear for court.

After bail is set, the defendant has the right to appeal the bail decision to a higher judge. This appeal can be immediate. Once bail is set, the defendant is allowed to arrange for assistance in paying the bail. In Philadelphia, a typical bail premium is 10% of the total bail. As an example, if bail is set at $5,000, before the defendant can be released, $500 would need to be paid into the bail escrow account.

Individuals other than a defendant many choose to pay bail. These individuals are called a surety. Acting as a surety is a great responsibility because the surety promises that the defendant will show to court. If the defendant fails to show for court, bail will be “sued out” and the surety will lose the entire bail amount ($5,000), not just the money paid for the bail premium ($500).

Bail is paid as a promise to return to court. If the defendant fails to show for their next court appearance, they forfeit their bail. If the defendant appears for all scheduled hearings, the bail money is returned to the surety who paid it. Bail money is typically mailed to the surety within thirty days of the last court hearing. For more information on bail, please visit our Bail Information paid.

Bail Assignments for Legal Fees | Bail Assignment Attorney

In Philadelphia, many attorneys accept bail assignments for part of their fees. Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Michael F. Niznik allows bail assignments for payment of his fees in certain circumstances. Paying an attorney through a bail assignment is a contract between the surety, the defendant, and the attorney. The contract mandates that the bail refund will be directly paid to the attorney once the case is concluded. Bail assignments are an effective tool for defendants to retain qualified legal counsel as soon as possible to help them prepare their defense.

The Law Office of Michael F. Niznik argues for the lowest possible bail amounts and the release of our clients as soon as possible. Philadelphia bail assignment attorney Michael F. Niznik has always believed that having a client out on bail is more beneficial to the attorney and the client because the client can assist in preparing the case.

If you or someone you know is facing a criminal charge, contact Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Michael F. Niznik today at 267-589-0601 or online at

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