What is a Nebbia Order?
In Philadelphia criminal cases, a defendant is required to post ten percent of his/her bail amount before being released from custody prior to trial. In most cases, anyone can pay the ten percent, regardless of the amount, without any questions regarding the source of the funds.
However, in some cases the Court will add a condition on the bail known as a Nebbia order. When a Nebbia order is issued, the surety (the person posting the bail) will be required to produce and disclose the source of the funds being used to post bail. In these cases, the drug defense lawyer will have to demonstrate that the source of the bail came from a legitimate source rather than through illegal activities such as drug trafficking, money laundering and theft.
In a recent case with a Nebbia order, police seized Two Million Dollars worth of heroin, $18,000 in cash, a gun, and a twelve ton press that is used to press large kilos of drugs from inside an apartment. It is unlikely that someone dealing drugs on this scale became involved in the business overnight. Instead, there is a presumption that the individuals involved have been making a hefty profit for some time and probably have more cash put aside in a “rainy day” fund. In this case, bail was set at three million dollars and the Court imposed a Nebbia order.
How Can You Fight a Nebbia Order?
Once a Nebbia order is attached to bail, a criminal defense attorney needs to file a written motion to schedule a Nebbia hearing to have it lifted before a judge in the Court of Common Pleas. In the motion, the lawyer will have to outline the proof that the funds being used to pay bail are from legitimate sources, and will cite bank records, mortgage and property records, income tax returns, and/or other financial records.
At the Nebbia hearing, the defense attorney will introduce the evidence, and offer testimony from the surety to demonstrate to the court that the source of the funds is legitimate. The funds that are being used for the bail can be borrowed, so long as it can be shown that the loan could be repaid with legitimate funds.
A criminal defense attorney can file this motion quickly and make the entire process run smoothly so that the defendant can be released from custody expeditiously. Once the Nebbia is lifted, a motion for reduction of bail can also be filed if the ten percent amount is set too high.
What Does a Nebbia Order Tell Us About the Case
If a Nebbia order is attached to bail it is a pretty good sign that the police, the DA’s Office, and the Courts view the case as serious since most cases do not involve Nebbias. Therefore, it is more likely that the District Attorney will be devoting extra attention to the case, and it is imperative that you hire a criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia who can go toe-to-toe with the most talented prosecutors.