How Did This Happen?!

Suspect in Sgt. Simpson's death was a fugitive. So why was he free?

How could this happen?  That is a question many people are asking after taking a look at William Foster’s 22-year long criminal history.

The blame game starts across state lines in New Jersey, where Foster was a fugitive, then winds into Bucks County.  You can watch that story here.

Then two weeks ago, William Foster was in police custody AGAIN -- twice!  Once in Philadelphia and then in Bucks County.  Both times he posted bail and walked away a free man.

People have said he "slipped" through the system.  Maybe not.

Brian K. Wiley of the Law Offices of Brian K. Wiley, Esquire, P.C. explained how the system works in Philadelphia:

You get arrested. 
You get processed.
After you are suspected of a crime or arrested at the scene of a crime, you are taken to the roundhouse (or to the local police district) to be processed i.e "fingerprinted and photographed."
You may wait in jail until bail is set.
You spend time in jail until you can go before the bail commissioner. 
Your bail is set.
The bail commissioner’s duty is to set your monetary bail i.e. assign a monetary value ( post bond) for your alleged crime.  The amount of your bail is set depending on the severity of the crime you are accused of committing. So, if you steal your favorite color of lipstick, your bail will probably be significantly lower than if you get arrested for a more serious type of crime (like drug dealing). 
You may have an opportunity to post bail.
If you can post bail, or someone can post it for you, you are free until your court date.  To post bail, you may have to pay 10% of the actual amount.  If your bail is set at $10,000, you have to come up with $1,000.
If you can’t post bail, you stay in jail until your preliminary hearing.
You may get released on your own “recognizance.”
If you are an upstanding citizen, no prior crimes committed, your word is your bond.  If you promise to show up for your court date, the bail commissioner can trust you and release you.

No bail. Stay in jail.
If you’re accused of a very serious crime, you may not get an opportunity to post bail.  You may have to stay in jail until your hearing.

So What Exactly Happened to Foster?

He was arrested.
He was processed.
On November 3, Philadelphia police "livestopped" Foster for allegedly driving a car with no registration and no inspection. Police say they found a stolen shotgun in the car. Foster was arrested and processed at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.

He spent the night in jail.
Foster spent one night in jail. He faced the bail commissioner the next day, Election Day, November 4th.
Foster was released on his own recognizance.
Remember, that's the condition that gets applied most often to "upstanding" citizens, where your word is your guarantee that you will show up for your day in court.


Foster arrested again.
Different town. Different rules.
November 5, Foster was accused of robbing a Giant supermarket in Middletown Township, Bucks County. He was arrested, and brought to jail. Sources told NBC10 that Foster was processed and then held in jail for some time, possibly more than a week.  He then faced the bail commissioner and had a preliminary hearing set.

There are two hearings in a criminal case: the preliminary hearing and the trial

During the preliminary hearing, all evidence against the suspect is heard and the District Attorney’s Office must sustain burden of proof to state their case.

If enough evidence is found, a judge will hold the case over for a formal trial.

However, you can “waive” your preliminary hearing. That’s most likely to happen if the suspect knows prosecutors have the evidence they need to take the case to trail.

When you waive your right to a preliminary hearing, bail is set.
If you can post bail, you are free until your trial, which could be within 90 days.

This is where the details are still unclear -- what happened next with William Foster? 

How exactly did he end up back on the street after his arrest in Middletown Twp., Bucks County?

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