Philadelphia Bail Hearings

Photo by SAKDAWUT14/iStock / Getty Images

Individuals arrested for misdemeanors in Philadelphia, such as DUI, theft, drug possession or other non-violent offenses, typically will not be required to pay bail in order to be released prior to having to appear in court. Instead, you will likely be released SOB (Sign on Bond), ROR (Released on Own Recognizance), or ROSC (Released on Special Conditions). Exceptions to this rule often involve defendants who have a history of failing to appear in court, thus forcing judges to assign bail when such a requirement would not normally be necessary.

In Philadelphia, if you are charged with a felony, including firearms offenses, violent crimes, robbery, sexual assault, drug possession with intent to deliver or distribute, you can expect the bail commissioner to set your bail at high amount - often thousands of dollars. For most people, tendering bail for thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars simply isn’t possible. That’s why the first thing your criminal defense attorney should do is seek to reduce your bail amount during the first preliminary hearing or pre-emptively by filing a petition at the Court of Common Pleas. In reviewing such requests or petitions, judges will consider above all whether or not the defendant, if released, presents a potential danger to the community or represents a flight risk to the court. Beyond that, the judge will also examine the defendant’s background, including employment and education and character letters, in determining the appropriate bail amount. Preparing these materials, and arranging for friends and family to attest to your good character before a judge, therefore, can be crucial in reducing your bail.

Philadelphia Nebbia Hearings

In Philadelphia criminal court, defendants must post 10% of their bail before release from custody. Typically, any individual or group of individuals (called a “surety”) can pay this 10% amount on behalf of the defendant without the source of those funds being questions. In a small number of cases, however, the court will insist on a condition of bail called a Nebbia Order, which will require the defendant’s surety to disclose the source of the bail funds. This is to ensure that the funds used to post bail do not originate from illegal activities.

Nebbia orders are often used in cases involving alleged drug dealers, who in the course of business may have set aside large amounts of cash in anticipation of the day when it might come in handy.

Fighting a Nebbia Order

Nebbia orders in Philadelphia can be fought. In order to challenge a nebbia order, a criminal defense attorney will motion for a Nebbia hearing in the Court of Common Pleas. At the hearing, the attorney will offer proof that the surety’s funds are legitimate, including bank statements, financial records, and tax returns. If successful, once bail is posted, defendant’s may be released from custody prior to trial without having to fully submit to Nebbia order.

A Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney

Our criminal defense attorney, Charles Gibbs, has been selected to Super Lawyers® and, in 2014, he was named “Outstanding Young Lawyer” by the Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia. If you or anyone you know has been arrested and charged with a crime, Mr. Gibbs would like to help. Please contact him for a free consultation toll-free at 1-855-462-3330 or directly via email by clicking here.

Name *