If you are facing charges for a criminal offense, you want to spend as little time as possible behind bars. Still, after your arrest, a judge may order you to pay bail before your pre-trial release. Bail is simply money or assets you provide in exchange for your release from custody. As a condition of bail and release, you also need to give your word that you’ll appear at all future court hearings.
For serious drug- and money-related crimes, judges might hold Nebbia hearings. Named for a 1966 federal appeals court ruling, this type of hearing requires you to prove that your bail money comes from legitimate sources. That is, you must provide evidence which shows that the funds used to post bail did not come from unlawful activities.
Disclosing the source of funds
Your first consideration is coming up with your bail. To improve your chances of having a successful Nebbia hearing, it is critical to obtain the funds from a legitimate, legal source. If you intend to borrow money, get it from a bank or from someone who has not committed a criminal offense. On the other hand, if the bail is your own, you must collect evidence to show that you obtained it lawfully.
Can you prove legitimacy?
Federal prosecutors tend to view defendants through “dirt-colored” glasses, so you should expect them to try to keep you behind bars. When you gather evidence to prove legitimacy of your bail funds, you must make sure it does not link bail funds to your criminal charges and that it does not implicate you in crimes for which prosecutors have not charged you.
The following items may be helpful:
- Credible witnesses who know about the source of your bail money
- Bank, tax, accountancy and other financial records
- Loan documents
- Contracts with bail or bond providers
Ultimately, if you and your criminal defense attorney can convince the judge you obtained bail money from a legitimate source, you are likely to have a positive Nebbia hearing.