What Is A Bail Bond?
When you are arrested on a criminal charge in South Carolina, one of the first things to happen after that is your bond hearing (also sometimes called a bail hearing). At this bond hearing, the bond judge will evaluate you on two factors: 1) Are you a “danger to the community?” and 2) Are you a “flight risk?”
Based on these two factors, the judge can either set a bond or deny you a bond. If the judge sets a bond, the judge will either give you a surety bond or a personal recognizance (“PR”) bond. If you are given a PR bond, you will be released automatically without anyone having to post any money. If you are given a surety bond, you or a family member may post the full amount with the court, or you or a family member may use a bondsman to post the bond for you. If you use a bondsman, you will be required to pay a fee to the bondsman, usually a percentage of the total bond (e.g. 5 to 10%).
How Do I Get Out Of Jail? How Does Bond Work?
If you are given a personal recognizance (“PR”) bond, then you will automatically get out of jail without having to post any money. This is why a PR bond is often referred to as a “get of out jail free card.” It typically takes between one to five hours after you get a PR bond for the jail to process you out and actually release you. However, if there is any other type of hold on you, such as an ICE hold or a warrant from another jurisdiction, then you will not be released until these issues are resolved.
If you are given a surety bond, you will either have to post the entire bond amount with the court or use a bail bondsman to bail you out. Typically, the bondsman will charge a fee that is a percentage of the total bond amount for this service. These fees, as well as payment plans, can vary widely from bondsman to bondsman.
Is Bond Always Set In A Criminal Case?
No, some charged offenses are so serious and/or the defendant’s record is so long that a bond judge will deny the person a bond. If this happens, the defendant will have to remain in jail until court. However, the defendant can file a motion in the Circuit Court for a Circuit Court Judge to review this decision and ask for a bond to be set.
How Is The Amount Determined?
Unfortunately, there is no formula that bond judges use to determine the amount of a bond. Therefore, bond amounts can vary greatly from case to case and from judge to judge. Generally, the bond judge will listen to both sides and then set a bond amount that the judge feels is appropriate based on the defendant’s danger to community and flight risk. The bond hearing is not a time for the guilt or innocence of the defendant to be decided. The bond judge is supposed to presume the defendant’s innocence at the bond hearing.
What If I Can’t Afford The Bond Amount Set?
If you cannot afford to make bond, then you will make to sit in jail until your case is called to court. Unfortunately, this could be several months or even years (for murder cases and other serious offenses). However, you will have to right to ask for another bond hearing called a bond reconsideration hearing, in which your attorney argues reasons to the judge to lower your bond.
Can I Ever Be Released On My Own Recognizance?
Yes, for lower level offenses, a judge might grant a PR bond. However, having your attorney represent you at the bond hearing will greatly increase the chances you will be given a PR bond. Your attorney can also ask the judge to modify certain conditions of your bond.
What Happens To The Bond Amount Paid If Someone Doesn’t Show Up For Court?
If the defendant does not appear for court, the prosecutor or bondsman will most likely attempt to have the bond amount forfeited. This is in addition to a bench warrant being issued for your arrest. If a warrant is issued for missing court, your best chance of having the bench warrant lifted is to hire an attorney to help you.
Will I Get The Bond Amount Back?
If you post the entire bond amount with the court and do not miss any required court appearances, then you will receive the entire amount back, once the case is finished. If you use a bondsman to post bond, then the amount paid to the bondsman is considered a fee, and you will not receive that amount back.
Should I Hire An Attorney?
Yes, you or your family should hire an attorney for you as soon as possible after your arrest. First, if they do this, there is a good chance your attorney will be able to appear at your bond hearing on your behalf. These bond hearings usually happen very quickly after an arrest, so time is of the essence. Also, having your attorney involved from the very beginning of the case can be a big advantage so that no mistakes are made early on that can come back to bite you later on in the case.
Can A Bond Be Used For Fines Or Court Costs?
In certain types of cases, the bond amount can be forfeited to pay a fine and court cost that is due on your case. However, keep in mind that this would only happen if you were convicted of the charge and a fine is handed down by the judge as your sentence. If you are looking to not get convicted of the charge, then this is not something you would want to do. Instead, you should hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you.
What If The Defendant Accidentally Misses Court Or Is Unable To Appear In Court?
If you do not have an attorney and miss court, whether by accident or not, the judge will almost surely issue a bench warrant for your arrest. If you have an attorney, sometimes the attorney can go to court for you and protect you from having a bench warrant issued. However, this depends on what type of court you are dealing with (e.g. municipal, magistrate, general sessions, or federal court).
What Happens If I Am Arrested And Released From Jail Without Being Charged With A Crime?
When this happens, there is usually a lot more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye. You still may be under investigation or you still may be charged later. This is a very good time to set up a consultation with your attorney to discuss what your options are and come up with a good game plan.
For more information on Bail Bonds In The State Of South Carolina, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (843) 856-2222 today.