The prospects of Juelz Santana ultimately being released on bond for his federal gun charges were up in the air on Tuesday as the rapper likely grappled with what the future held for him. It was only one day earlier that he surrendered to authorities after nearly three days of being on the run over a loaded gun found in a carry-on bag during airport security screening. He could face 10 years in prison for one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and one count of carrying a weapon on an aircraft.
But after a judge ordered Santana to be held in custody until a preliminary hearing later this month, his lawyer seemed fairly confident at the chances of securing the freedom of the man the court recognizes as Laron James.
“We’re gathering his information as quickly as possible to ask the judge to release Mr. James as we wait to review and defend the charges,” criminal defense attorney Brian Neary told NJ.com on Monday.
While the Eighth Amendment states in part that “Excessive bail shall not be required,” the law explicitly reminds us that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1987 that the “”eighth amendment does not grant absolute right to bail.”
Bottom line: Bail is always going to be at the discretion of the judge presiding over the case unless the defendant is a first-time offender without any priors, in which case the judge can offer legal leniency. Unfortunately for Santana, this isn’t his first brush with the law. He’s been arrested for violations ranging from delinquent child support to domestic violence to guns and drugs.
The court will probably decide Santana is a flight risk, considering how he fled Newark International Airport on Friday after security guards said they noticed a gun in his bag. Santana would end up being a fugitive from law while he was on the run for nearly three days until he turned himself in.
After all, “the Bail Reform Act requires the pretrial detention of a defendant only if a judicial officer determines that no conditions or combination of conditions exist which will ‘reasonably assure the appearance of the person,’” according to the Release And Detention Pending Judicial Proceedings as defined by the Offices of the United States Attorneys.
Bail has never been kind to Black men, but especially not rappers. Meek Mill was denied bond for violating his probation by illegally riding a dirt bike in New York City. Not exactly a violent crime. So if that happened to him, and he’s been sitting in a cell since November, it’s a safe bet that Santana should expect way more severe treatment from the court.
Santana’s preliminary hearing to determine if bail will be granted has been scheduled for March 26.