Knowledgeable Columbia Attorney Helps with the Bail Bond Process
Determined assistance in Richland County and throughout South Carolina
State and federal criminal defendants generally have the right to post bail to secure release from custody while their cases are pending. Besides the obvious benefit of freedom, posting bail can make it easier for the accused to work with a criminal defense attorney towards a successful resolution of the case. However, the right to bail is not absolute and bail amounts can vary greatly. With extensive South Carolina criminal law experience, Jack B. Swerling, Attorney at Law, in Columbia can make a strong case for your release on a reasonable bail amount, and sometimes with no bail at all.
How bail works in South Carolina
Whether arrested for a state crime or a federal offense, a defendant usually appears in court within 24 hours for a bail hearing, at which a judge must decide whether to keep the defendant in custody or to order release pending trial.
There are two major reasons for denying bail:
- Flight risk — To decide whether the accused is likely to flee to avoid trial and punishment, the court considers his or her ties to the community and other factors, including the severity of the charges and resources that might enable the accused to reach a safe haven.
- Threat to the community — A court might conclude that a defendant accused of a violent or otherwise serious crime is potentially too dangerous to remain at large.
Once the court decides it is appropriate to release a defendant pending trial, the question is whether to require him or her to post bail and in what amount. The Eighth Amendment prohibits “excessive” bail, but interpretations of that term vary greatly, as do bail amounts. Bail for a misdemeanor can be several hundred to a few thousand dollars, while bail for a serious felony can be upwards of a million dollars.
There are three possible outcomes of the bail hearing:
- Release on personal recognizance — The defendant is released, without having to post bail, upon the condition that he or she will appear at all court dates.
- Release on bail — The judge orders the defendant to pay a certain amount of money into court. This is usually done by purchasing a bail bond, a form of surety agreement secured by certain collateral, such as a home, jewelry or other assets. A bail bondsman charges a nonrefundable fee, typically 10 to 15 percent of the bond’s face value.
- Release on other conditions — With or without requiring bill, a judge might order such add such restrictions as house arrest, an ankle monitor, a mental health assessment, limitations on travel and prohibitions on contact with the alleged victim.
The challenges of obtaining bail or release on other conditions are reasons to consult an experienced criminal law attorney immediately after your arrest who can secure the best outcome at your bail hearing.
What happens if a defendant violates bail conditions?
If the defendant fails to appear on a court date or otherwise violates the terms of release, the judge can issue a bench warrant authorizing his or her re-arrest. Because bail bondsmen stand to lose a substantial amount of money if the defendant fails to appear in court, they normally employ people called “skip tracers,” who are authorized to track down and arrest the defendant.
Not only does the defendant have to go back to jail, but the bail bond is forfeited. The defendant has the right to refute the finding of bail violation, and a skilled attorney can sometimes resolve the situation in the defendant’s favor.
Contact a veteran South Carolina criminal defense attorney today
If you have been arrested, you need skilled representation at your bail hearing to make the best case for release as soon as possible. Call Jack B. Swerling, Attorney at Law, in Columbia 24 hours a day at 800-701-0599 or contact him online for a prompt response.