Life and Death > Courtroom Confusion

Bail for murder


Does this ring true?

A postal employee is arrested for murder of a man shot in a department store parking lot. The arrested man had been having an affair with the victim's wife. At arraiignment his lawyer argues that it was a crime of passion, an argument that led to violence, and gets him released on bail.

Is it feasible for a murder suspect to be released on bail under those circumstances?

Thanks for any feedback.


Dave Freas:
I'm not 100% sure, Bob, but I think bail would more likely hinge on other factors, like:
1/ His history.  Does he have a record of other crimes?  Are they serious ones like domestic violence?  Or more minor ones like a DUI?
2/ How he actually killed his victim.  Did he just put one in the guy's heart?  Or did he wound him 14 times before putting the last round in the magazine in his head?
3/ His demeanor.  Does he appear remorseful about his actions, or does his attitude shout, "The bastard had it coming!"
4/ His financial situation.  If he gets bail, does he have the money to take off for Tahiti?  Or is he stuck in town until the trial?
5/ His reputation.  Is he well-known and well-liked by neighbors and co-workers?  Or are they glad his ass is in a sling?
6/ The judge.  Did he boff his mistress last night.  Or did his wife refuse him for the 957th night in a row?  Is his taco lunch giving him major heartburn?  Or did he have to eat unseasoned baked chicken to appease his ulcer?  Or was that cheesesteak too delicious to be measured?  Does he assume everyone arraigned before him is guilty or the wouldn't be there?  Or does he decide each case on individual merit?
The more positive things the guy has going for him (except for his finances, where negative is better), the more likely he is to get bail.
But also check the statutes of wherever your story is set.  Some states may have laws that mandate no bail ever in murder cases in which case the judge's hands are tied.

Hi Dave.

The character meets all the prerequisites that you list. (clean record, not a flight risk, single shot, heat-of-the-moment). And as far as I can tell Pennsylvania has no law making denial of bail mandatory in a homicide. Just that it is at the jduge's discretion, and very, very rare.

Thanks (and get back to cutting the grass)

Dave Freas:
Then you're home free.

You can leave him in the slammer or spring him depending on how you want things to go.

The damn grass is waiting until Monday.


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