Why Have an Attorney at a Bond Hearing?
Types of Bonds
Personal Recognizance Bond
A “PR” bond: a defendant is released, but must agree to forfeit a certain amount of money if he or she fails to appear for court.
If the bonding judge makes a finding that a pr bond would not reasonably ensure a defendant’s appearance, or the release of the defendant would cause an unreasonable danger to the community, the defendant still has a constitutional right to bail. However, the judge may impose any one or more of the conditions listed in §17-15-10:
Require a Professional or Surety Bond
Require a designated person or facility (such as a treatment center) to agreeing to supervise the defendant;
place restrictions on the travel, association or place of abode of the accused during the period of release; and
impose any other condition deemed reasonably necessary to assure appearance, including a condition that the person return to custody after specified hours.
Posting Real Estate as Bond, Cash Bond
The defendant may come up with one of several kinds of security which the judge must accept. The defendant may post security, or he may find friends or relatives who can act as surety for him.
A magistrate or municipal judge may accept a real property interest as security for a bail bond. The defendant may be permitted to deposit cash or, sometimes, to post a percentage of the amount of the bond, rather than the entire amount.
Things to Know About Bond Hearings in South Carolina
Bond Hearings are conducted by a Magistrate or Municipal Judge, who sets the bail, usually at the jail or detention center.
At the Bond Hearing, the Judge not only sets the bail or bond, but also sets the date the defendant must appear in Court.
A Magistrate Judge must not set bond if the defendant is charged with an offense that is punishable by life in prison or death. Then, the bond hearing must be held in General Sessions Court before a Circuit Court Judge. See, §22-5-510(A) S.C. Code of Laws of 1976, as amended.
A person may not be denied a bond by the Municipal or Magistrate Court unless:
The crime charged is a violent crime, as defined in Section 16-1-60 of the South Carolina Code of Laws of 1976, as amended, and
then only if the judge makes findings that “give due weight to the evidence and to the nature and circumstances of the event.”
Victims do not have the unconditional right to attend a bond hearing. Law Enforcement Agencies must make REASONABLE efforts to notify a victim (alleged victim) as to the date and time of the hearing. Alleged victims do have the right to speak to the court about the bond if they attend the hearing. However, a victim or alleged victim can not keep the accused in jail by being unavailable for contact.
The Bond Court Judge can impose additional restrictions or requirements on a defendant, and can make those a condition of the defendant’s bond. Later, if someone contends a defendant has violated one of the terms of the bond, the defendant may face a Bond Revocation Hearing.
Bond Hearings must be held twice a day, in the morning and the evening, at specific times, usually at the county detention center.
South Carolina law provides that “[a] person charged with a bailable offense must have a bond hearing within twenty-four hours of his arrest and must be released within a reasonable time, not to exceed four hours, after the bond is delivered to the incarcerating facility.” S.C. Code § 22-5-510(B).
However, there is an exception if a law enforcement agency can present “compelling written evidence to the bonding magistrate or municipal judge as to why an individual should not be released within twenty-four hours.” Order of the Chief Justice dated September 19, 2007.
The same Order requires all bond hearings be open to the public.
Violations of the Chief Justice’s Order must be reported “immediately to the Office of Court Administration.” See, Order of the Chief Justice dated September 19, 2007. http://www.sccourts.org/whatsnew/displaywhatsnew.cfm?indexID=412
Another exception is when the bond hearing involves a person charged with Criminal Domestic Violence (CDV), Section 16-25-20 or Criminal Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature (CDV-HAN), Section 16-25-65.
In these cases, Bond Hearings are conducted a bit differently, and the law has recently changed to require the Bond Judge, “when considering the release of a person on bond who is charged with a violent offense as defined in § 16-1-60, and the person is a household member as defined in § 16-25-10, and the person:
is subject to the terms of a valid Order of Protection or Restraining Order of this State or another state;
or, has a previous conviction involving the violation of a valid Order of Protection or Restraining Order of this State or another state, § 16-25-120 requires that the court consider the following factors for release of that person on bond:
whether the person has a history of criminal domestic violence or a history of other violent offenses;
the mental health of the person;
whether the person has a history of violating Orders of a court or other governmental agency;
and whether the person poses a potential threat to another person. Additionally, when considering release of a person on bond under this section, the court must consider whether to issue a Restraining Order or Order of Protection against the person, using the criteria described above. If the court determines that such an Order is appropriate, it should issue the Order or forward the matter to the appropriate court.
Some people may be detained before a bond is set by as many as twelve days. In the cases of bonding individuals charged with harassment or stalking, a magistrate or municipal judge may order a defendant to undergo a mental health evaluation, performed by the mental health department, to determine if the defendant needs mental health treatment or counseling as a condition of bond. The evaluation must be scheduled within ten days of the Order of issuance. Upon completion of the evaluation, the examiner must report his findings, within forty-eight hours, to the local solicitor’s office or summary court judge, for consideration by the bonding judge.” South Carolina Bench Book for Summary Court Judges, Criminal Section E. 4.
The details of the bond payment can range from a cash only bond, payable to the clerk of court, a 10% bond, or a surety bond. Bonds secured through the clerk of court will be returned at the end of the case, but surety bonds must be acquired through property or a bondsman. A bondsman’s fee is generally non-refundable, and bondsmen often have a variety of other requirements.
Let Michael D. McMullen handle your bond hearing and give yourself the peace of mind that your representation will be professionally done.
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