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What is Bail in Massachusetts?

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In Massachusetts, bail must be posted to secure someone’s release while criminal charges are pending.  It’s a cash amount given to the clerk or to the jail.

If you’re being charged with a crime, you will generally be taken before either a judge or bail commissioner to set bail.

Your bail may be set as personal recognizance. This means that you will be released on your promise to return to court.  So, you won’t have to post money. If you are released by the bail commissioner at the police station, you will have to pay $40 to the commissioner to be released.

The judge may set conditions for your release at the arraignment in court. One condition in every case is that you not commit any criminal offense – if you do, your bail could be revoked. Other conditions could be not contacting the victim, not abusing the victim, random drug tests, or pretty much any other condition the judge thinks is appropriate.

Furthermore, the judge or bail commissioner may also set a cash bail. You must post this amount in the clerk’s office to be released. There are no bail bondsmen in Massachusetts state court.

What Can I Do in Massachusetts if I Can’t Post Bail?

If the bail is unaffordable or the conditions are unreasonable, you can appeal, in a process known as bail review. In Massachusetts, bail review is when the superior court reviews your bail conditions and bail amount.  The court could raise your bail.

You could also file a motion to review your bail conditions in district court.  Bail review should be your first start.


The best way to secure your release is to hire a criminal lawyer to represent you. They can advocate for your release based on your income, criminal history, and the nature of the charges.

If you’re looking for a criminal defense attorney who will fight for your release, call me today at 617-356-8217. My office is located in Boston, but I practice criminal law in courts all over Massachusetts.

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