The intent of the drafters of Maryland's pretrial release framework was to encourage the release of individuals on recognizance, or by the posting of an unsecured bond. Indeed, the pretrial rule states that it
“shall be construed to permit the release of a defendant pending trial”.
Moreover, preference should be given to any additional conditions that do not require the posting a bond or other financial obligations. Requirements beyond recognizance or non-cash considerations can be set by a court only when there is a demonstrated need to imposed additional requirements so as to:
- to ensure the defendant’s appearance in court
- to safeguard the community, generally
- to safeguard any alleged victims,
- to safeguard any potential witnesses, or any other person
A court, in setting the conditions of pretrial release, is instructed to view each case individually, and in light of the unique circumstances particular to that defendant and alleged event. It is only where there is a specific finding that the defendant will not appear, or will pose a threat to a victim or witness, or the community generally that a defendant may be denied pretrial release. If there is such a finding, that detained individual will not be released. If, on the other hand, a court determines that the circumstances under which a defendant is not to be released do not exist, and an individual is eligible for release, then, in determining which additional conditions to impose, the court is instructed to impose the least burdensome requirements, and to weigh a list of additional considerations.
In addition to considering the recommendations of pretrial release officer, the State's attorney, defense counsel, and potentially the victim, a court should be guided by:
- the nature and circumstances alleged crime
- the strength of the State’s proof
- the time the defendant faces;
- prior failures to appear in court
- family and community connections
- the financial wherewithal of a defendant
- respectability and esteem
- mental status
- all prior convictions and any prior juvenile adjudications of delinquency less than 3 years old
Source: Md. Rule 4-216.1
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