If you find yourself under arrest and charged with a criminal offense, one of the first concerns you will likely have is getting out of jail. Fortunately, in the United States, a defendant is entitled to a reasonable bond that will allow the individual to be released from custody and remain free while the case is pending. The right to bond will only help you, however, if you (or your loved ones) can afford to pay the bond amount set in your case. If the bond is set too high, can a Smyrna criminal lawyer help you get the bond reduced?
What Is Bond and How is a Bond Amount Determined?
The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees that “Excessive bail shall not be required…”, meaning that for all but the most serious offenses (such as murder or treason) or sometimes for a probation violation, a bond (also referred to as “bail”) will be set.
If a defendant is arrested pursuant to a warrant, the arrest warrant typically includes a bond amount set by the judge or magistrate at the time the warrant was issued. When a defendant is arrested without a warrant, bond will typically be set when the defendant arrives at the jail. Most states now use bond schedules when setting a bond amount. These schedules typically look at the current charges and the defendant’s previous convictions and nothing more.
There are actually several different types of bonds, with the most commonly used being a cash bond or a surety bond. If a cash bond is set it means that you must pay the total bond amount in cash to secure your release. If you return for all court appearances and do not violate the terms of your release, your bond money will be returned to you, minus any court costs, at the conclusion of your case. A surety bond allows you to go through a bail bondsman. You will pay a percentage of the bond – usually 10-20 percent – to the bondsman. The bondsman then guarantees the bond with the court. You will not get any of your money back with this type of bond as the percentage you pay to the bondsman is his/her fee for underwriting the bond.
If the Bond Is Too High, How Can a Smyrna Criminal Lawyer Help?
Sometimes, the initial bond set by the court is too high for a defendant to pay. If that happens, your best chance at being released is to retain an experienced Smyrna criminal defense lawyer who will ask for a bond reduction hearing. At the hearing, your attorney will be allowed to present evidence and argument in support of a bond reduction. The prosecuting attorney will also be allowed to present evidence and/or argument against a reduction of your bond. When deciding on a bond amount, a judge will typically focus on three factors, including:
- Risk of flight – your past history of appearing, or failing to appear, for court appearances will be considered as will your ties to the community.
- Risk to the community – previous convictions will be considered as will any current threats to an alleged victim or to the public at large.
- Current charges – the severity of the current charges will be considered, including the penalties you are facing if convicted as well as the apparent strength of the evidence against you.
Ultimately, the judge will decide whether or not to grant you a bond reduction. One thing to keep in mind if you find yourself sitting in jail with a high bond and limited funds is that the court will typically consider the fact that you hired an attorney to be an indication that you plan to present a defense and will, therefore, show up for all future court dates. In other words, the act of hiring an attorney itself is often viewed as a factor to consider when deciding the issue of bond.
If you have been accused of a criminal offense, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Smyrna criminal defense attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.