One of the questions I am asked by people who expect to be charged with a crime is the amount of bail they will have to post once the case gets filed. The answer varies from case to case and from person to person. The answer to this question also depends on the judge hearing the bail argument, the district attorney prosecuting the case and the county where the case will be prosecuted. There are no formulas for setting bail in Massachusetts. I was recently retained on two very different rape cases and the amount of bail set pleasantly surprised both of these clients. Each asked me “is there a standard bail for rape cases in Massachusetts”. This post explores this issue.
The Severity Of The Charges Does Not Necessarily Mean High Bail
In one of these cases the complainant told the police that she was at a party where she met the defendant and a few other men. They were all drinking. She had was slightly “buzzed”. The defendant kissed her and began touching her underneath her shirt. He attempted to put his hands down her pants. She objected. He then penetrated her with his finger. The woman went to the police. The man was arrested, held at the police jail for the weekend and charged with rape. At the arraignment bail was set at one thousand dollars cash. He promptly posted it and was released.
In the other case, a middle aged man was accused of sexually abusing his nephew over the course of several years. A police investigation into the allegations lasted nearly one year. Charges of rape of a child issued and the man was arrested. He was arraigned and after a bail hearing he was released on his personal recognizance.
Factors Considered When Setting Bail in Rape Cases
Consider the substance of the allegations. In the digital penetration case the complainant told the police that she had been drinking and that she did have consensual contact with the accused. While she objected to the finger in her pants there were no visible injuries and her story was not corroborated by people at the party. The defendant had no criminal record and was not a flight risk.
In the other rape mentioned above the defendant was aware of the investigation for its entire duration. He never fled the jurisdiction nor did he contact the alleged victim or in any way intimidate him. He too had no criminal record, a solid job, a supportive immediate family and strong ties to the community. Both of the defendants in these cases assumed prior to meeting with me that their bail would be significant. As mentioned earlier in this post, both were very surprised by the low bail that was set.
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