Bail Reform in Maryland

The Maryland Court of Appeals recently adopted a rule ending the practice of holding criminal defendants in jail before trial when they cannot afford bail. The rule does not abolish the practice of required money for bail [Baltimore Sun report] but instructs judges to seek other ways of ensuring a defendant appears for trial. The rule keeps the option of money bail but provides judicial discretion to find other options when appropriate. It was argued that keeping defendants in jail solely because they could not afford bail is unconstitutional and that if there is a concern of public safety, then it is better to hold defendants without bond rather than placing a high bail amount in order to keep them behind bars. Some other options besides setting a bail amount are pretrial supervision and electronic monitoring. The new rule will take effect July 1.

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