Former Alabama Basketball Player Is Denied Bail Following Capital Murder Charges – What are the factors a criminal court uses to determine bail?
Former Alabama Basketball player, Darius Miles, was denied bail following his arraignment on Capital Murder charges in Alabama. Miles, and another man, Michael Davis, were charged with capital murder following a January 15, 2023, shooting that led to the death of Jamea Jonae Harris. Davis is accused of shooting Harris while Miles has admitted to owning the weapon used in the alleged shooting.
Miles has no prior criminal history. While he did not allegedly fire the fatal shot, he allegedly admitted that he gave the gun to the shooter after another player, Brandon Miller, brought him the handgun at his request. Miller, an expected NBA lottery pick, was never charged in the case. This case brings with it an opportunity to explain bail and bail procedures in general. While our criminal defense represents persons charged with crimes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the bail procedures are very similar to Alabama with regards to the factors the Court will consider when determining bail.
Who is entitled to bail and how is bail determined?
Similar to Pennsylvania and New Jersey, in Alabama, a charged defendant is not entitled to bail when he or she is charged with capital murder. While the defendant isn’t entitled to bail, his or her criminal defense lawyer may seek it.
This is what happened in the Darius Miles case. A court may release a defendant on bail pending trial unless the court or magistrate determines that such a release will not reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance as required, or that the defendant’s being at large will pose a real and present danger to others or to the public at large. If such a determination is made, the court may impose the least onerous condition or conditions that will reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance or that will eliminate or minimize the risk of harm to others or to the public at large.
A court will use the following factors to determine if bail is appropriate:
- The age, background and family ties, relationships, and circumstances of the defendant.
- The defendant’s reputation, character, and health.
- The defendant’s prior criminal record, including prior releases on recognizance or on secured appearance bonds, and other pending cases.
- The identity of responsible members of the community who will vouch for the defendant’s reliability.
- Violence or lack of violence in the alleged commission of the offense.
- The nature of the offense charged, the apparent probability of conviction, and the likely sentence, insofar as these factors are relevant to the risk of nonappearance.
- The type of weapon used, e.g., knife, pistol, shotgun, sawed-off shotgun.
- Threats made against victims and/or witnesses.
- Residence of the defendant, including consideration of real property ownership, and length of residence in his or her place of domicile.
- In cases where the defendant is charged with a drug offense, evidence of selling or pusher activity should indicate a substantial increase in the amount of bond.
- Consideration of the defendant’s employment status and history, the location of the defendant’s employment, e.g., whether employed in the county where the alleged offense occurred, and the defendant’s financial condition.
- Any sentencing enhancement statutes related to the charged offense.
Why was Darius Miles denied bail if he has no criminal history and strong community contacts?
While Darius Miles has no prior criminal history and likely has strong contacts with community where the charges occurred, it was highly unlikely that the judge would have granted bail given that he faces a possible life sentence if convicted of these charges. It is important to keep in mind that bail arguments and not trial arguments! Mr. Miles maintains a presumption of innocence and despite the charges, the State will have to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction here. While a preliminary hearing judge held the case for trial and a grand jury indicted him on these charges, the burden of proof at these proceedings (Prima Facie – More probable than not) is much lower than the criminal trial standard (guilt beyond a reasonable doubt)
If you’re arrested for a crime, bail is very important part of the criminal process if bail is set high or you are not given any bail, you will have to remain in custody until the matter goes trial. It may take over a year to make it to a jury trial in most jurisdictions. While bail does not mean that you will be acquitted at trial, it put you in a much stronger position from defense standpoint. If you have questions regarding the bail process in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, please contact our criminal defense lawyers.
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