Part two in our continuing series explaining the criminal process in South Carolina will focus on bond hearings.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Bond Hearing?
A bond, in criminal law, is, an obligation to pay the court if a defendant fails to meet the terms of conditional release from custody. Any time an individual is charged with a criminal offense, even a traffic ticket, there is generally a bond that is set. When the person is not arrested and receives a ticket, the bond is usually listed on the ticket itself by the officer who wrote it, and it is the total amount of the fine for the offense. When a person is arrested and taken to jail, they must await an initial bond setting before a judge to determine the amount of the bond.
South Carolina Code Ann § 22-5-510(B) 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.” The hearing is generally in front of a magistrate judge who has the authority to set bond on all criminal offenses except Murder, and in several other situations where the penalty is life imprisonment or death. In those cases where the magistrate judge cannot set a bond, the defendant will be held with no bond until a bond hearing is scheduled in front of a Circuit Court judge.
Initial bond hearings are held twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening, in every county in South Carolina. The judge is concerned with whether the defendant is a flight risk or a danger to the community when determining whether a bond should be set, and at what amount. The presumption is that all defendants should receive a personal recognizance (PR) bond unless other factors such as prior criminal record or out of state ties influence the situation. If a bond is set, the defendant can post the bond personally or through a bail bondsman and get out of jail pending trial. If the defendant is unable to afford to bond out, a motion for bond reconsideration may be filed requesting that the bond amount be lowered to a more reasonable figure.
The initial bond hearing is a critical stage of the criminal process since it is the first contact the defendant will have with the judicial branch. The defendant should have an attorney present to represent them at this hearing to ensure all of their rights are being explained and protected. Furthermore, an experienced bond court attorney knows how to prepare an effective presentation to highlight the reasons that the accused is not a flight risk, nor a danger to the community, and a reasonable bond should be set.
At Loignon Law Firm we have years of experience representing clients in bond hearings across the Lowcountry and getting outstanding results. If you or a loved one has been arrested, call (843) 790-9388 immediately for quick and effective bond court representation.