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Conditions of bail

Learn about the different conditions of bail that can be applied to a defendant.

Table of Contents

No bail conditions

There are some circumstances where no bail would be offered:

  • Major felony charges — In Massachusetts, defendants charged with more serious criminal felony charges, such as murder or rape, may be held without bail until they’re brought to trial or plead guilty.
  • Additional violations or outstanding defaults resulting in re-arrest — If a defendant is arrested for violating an Abuse Prevention Order (209A), or if a defendant has an unresolved default warrant with a penalty of over 100 days in jail, they won’t be released on bail. The police will hold the defendant until they’re brought to court.
  • Probation warrants — Probation officers can request warrants for electronic bracelet and probation violations. Defendants arrested on these types of warrants can’t be bailed.

Default warrant

When a defendant doesn’t pay fees and fines connected to the court case, the court will issue a default warrant. The default warrant includes the amount that the defendant owes related to the case. In order to be released from custody, the defendant must post (pay) that amount as bail.

Release with conditions

The bail magistrate can release the defendant with certain conditions that the defendant must follow. For example, in a domestic violence or harassment case, the bail magistrate may order that the defendant stay away and have no contact with the victim. The defendant can be re-arrested for violating the conditions imposed by the bail magistrate.


  • Penalty for failure to appear in court after release on bail or recognizance — A defendant who doesn’t appear in court without a satisfactory excuse after release on bail or personal recognizance may be punished by:
    • In a misdemeanor case — A fine of $10,000 or imprisonment for a year, or both
    • In a felony case — A fine of $50,000 or imprisonment for 5 years, or both
  • Penalty for committing a crime while on release on bail or personal recognizance — If a defendant is charged with another crime while on release on bail or personal recognizance, the court may revoke (cancel) the terms of their release. The court may order the defendant be held without bail for up to 90 days.

Legal counsel fee

The court can’t return bail to the defendant or to the surety (the person guaranteeing the bail will be paid) until the legal counsel fee has been paid.



Catherine M. Coughlin, Esquire (617) 788-7312


Suffolk County Courthouse
3 Pemberton Square
Room 320
Boston, MA 02108
Last updated: October 11, 2018