Bond Hearings- What You Need to Know
What do the magistrate’s bond classifications mean?
Upon arrest and during the booking process, the magistrate at the local jail will classify a person’s bond status into one of three possible classifications: hold/no bond, personal recognizance or “PR” bond, or surety bond.
If a person’s bond status is “PR” then then the jail will release him once he has been through the booking process. However, if the person is believed to be under the influence, he will not be released until it has been determined that he is sober.
If a person has been granted a bond with surety, then someone must post money, usually through a bondsman, to gain his release.
If the magistrate declines to grant a bond, then the accused will remain incarcerated until his hearing date or a bond hearing is docketed by his attorney and a Judge grants a bond. An attorney can typically have a bond hearing docketed within 48 hours.
What is a “surety” bond?
If you have a bond amount but cannot meet the full cash requirement to post the bond, a third party, typically a bondsman, will charge you a fee, usually 10% of the total bond owed. In exchange for the fee you pay him, he will post the full amount with the court on your behalf.
For example, if the magistrate or a Judge grants you a $5,000 bond with surety, typically you will pay a bondsman $500 (10%) as a fee for his posting the full amount with the court. As a surety, the bondsman pledges to the court that you will appear on your court date or he will forfeit the entire amount of the bond to the court. Once the bondsman is paid his fee he can execute the necessary paperwork to gain a person’s release.
Why do I need an attorney at this stage if I can simply pay a bondsman?
As in any trade or profession, not all bondsman are equal. Experienced criminal law attorneys can connect you with a bondsman who has an excellent reputation for honesty, integrity, and responsiveness. If a bondsman is contacted by an attorney and the family, then it is likely that you will get a faster response which may mean a quicker release for your loved one.
What if the surety bond is too high or the magistrate has set no bond?
Contact an attorney immediately. The Magistrate’s bond classification is merely the first determination of bond status. If no bond was granted by the magistrate your attorney can docket a bond hearing with the court to argue to a Judge that a bond would be appropriate. If the magistrate granted a bond but you cannot afford to post it your attorney can argue for a reduction to a bond amount you can afford.
The sooner you contact an attorney the more quickly your loved one may be released. Do not wait- contact an experienced criminal law attorney as soon as possible. Each hour that passes could be an hour your loved one did not have to spend behind bars.