When judges order defendants to pay bail, they often impose conditions on their release. Depending on the circumstances, one of those conditions may include the surrender of their passports. If you need your passport for identity purposes or other valid reasons, you may be wondering if there's any way you can avoid having to give up this important document. Here are two things you can try.
Convince the Judge You're Not a Flight Risk
The primary reason judges require defendants to give up passports is because they're concerned the defendants will flee the jurisdiction as soon as they are released. Thus, forcing the defendants to turn over their passports is one way to restrict their travel. At minimum, this will prevent defendants from escaping to other countries where it may be difficult to retrieve them due to extradition laws.
If it seems like this is the reason the judge wants you to surrender your passport, you'll have to convince him or her that you're not a flight risk. This can be challenging, but if you can show your ties to the community are so deep you wouldn't think about running or you don't have the ability to leave, then the judge may let you keep your passport.
For instance, if you've lived in the community for a decade and your family, friends, and job are located here, the judge may relent and let you keep your passport since it's unlikely you would abandon your family or employer to flee.
It's best to work with a criminal defense attorney who can make a persuasive argument on your behalf that may help you obtain the outcome you want.
Show You Have a Valid Need for Travel
Another thing you can do that may convince the judge to let you keep your passport is prove you need to travel for a valid reason. For instance, if you're an airline pilot, the judge may let you retain the document so you can perform your job. Traveling to appear in court in another jurisdiction is also another valid reason.
Be aware, though, that you may need to show you can't use any other document to travel. If your other court appointments are located in another state in the U.S., the court may still ask you to turn over your passport, since you can still travel within the country using a state identification card, for example.
There may be other things you can do to avoid having to surrender your passport to post bond. Discuss the issue with a lawyer. For help posting bail to get out of jail, contact a local bail bond service.