June 2011 Archives

Milford Court Revokes Drug Defendant's Bail From Wrentham Court

coke and cash.jpgFranklin Police arrested Oniell Lopez of Uxbridge in December for violation the controlled substance act. He was arraigned in Wrentham District Court on charges of possessing heroin and cocaine with with the intent to distribute those drugs. The Wrentham Court set bail at $10,000 and Mr. Lopez paid the bail and was released from custody. While awaiting trial on those charges, the Milford Police, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, and others were monitoring him.

According to the Milford Daily News he was arrested again on Monday in Milford and charged with the essentially same offenses. The article states that he was released on $5,000 cash bail that same day. Apparently his Milford District Court arraignment on the new charges was scheduled for Tuesday.

On that day, the Milford District Court made two decisions regarding his bail. First, the court revoked his prior bail from the Wrentham District Court. Second, the court increased his new bail from $5,000 to $25,000. This scenario illustrates several issues regarding bail in the Massachusetts Criminal Courts.

When a court sets a bail, it is usually accompanied by a "Bail Warning." The warning informs the defendant that if he is arrested or charged with a new crime after being released on bail, his bail may be revoked and he may be held without bail for up to 60 days.The bail warning is read to the defendant at the time the bail is set, and in many instances the defendant is required to sign a document acknowledging understanding of the warning. Apparently, Mr Lopez did this in December when the $10,000 bail was set in the Wrentham Court. When he appeared in the Milford Court, the prosecutor relied upon the prior warning (they usually call the other court and have the documents faxed) and convinced the judge to revoke his Wrentham bail. Hence, you do not need to be brought back to the original court to have your bail revoked. Any criminal court in the state is able to do it.

Mr. Lopez did not lose the $10,000 he posted in connection with the Wrentham case. (Nor did he lose the $5,000 he originally posted for the Milford case). That would only happen if he failed to appear for a scheduled court appearance date after paying the bail. In fact, he probably appeared several time in the Wrentham Court between December and now. When Milford revoked the Wrentham bail, he was taken into custody, but the bail remains on account. After 60 days in custody, the Wrentham bail will revert to the original $10,000. But, he will only be able to get out if he posts another $25,000 on the new charge.

It is interesting to note that Lopez posted $5,000 on Monday after his arrest. That was done at the police station or at the jail. Hence, he walks out, and returns to Milford Court a day or two latter only to have that bail increased by $20,000 and his other bail revoked completely. The article makes it fairly clear he did not consult with an attorney until the morning of his arraignment. When one appears in court in that fashion bad things can happen fairly quickly. The lawyer who represented him may have been a very good one, but he or she had limited time to prepare and explain all this to Mr. Lopez.

The article mentions that "Lopez can appeal his bail to the Worcester Superior Court." This is an important right because it gives a person who is unable to pay a bail an opportunity to do more thorough preparation for a hearing that may result in the loss of his liberty. Unfortunately for Mr. Lopez the appeal will only involve the newly established $25,000 bail. He may not challenge the revocation of the $10,000 with his bail appeal.

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