All posts by Michael Jenkins

Bond Hearings- What You Need to Know

 

Bond Hearings- What You Need to Know

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.

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5 Tips when Charged with Reckless Driving

What You Should do When Charged With Reckless Driving

The Commonwealth of Virginia considers the offense of reckless driving, a Class 1 Misdemeanor, to be very serious. A Class 1 Misdemeanor conviction can result in a penalty of up to one year of jail and up to a $2,500.00 fine. It is not an offense to be taken lightly. Therefore, it is imperative that you retain an attorney to represent your interests.

5 Helpful Reckless Driving TipsThe most common ways an officer will attempt to establish your speed is by testifying to his pacing procedure or the use of radar. An experienced traffic attorney can make technical legal arguments regarding an officer’s pacing procedure as well as the legitimacy of the radar equipment used. In addition, if a person is found guilty, an experienced attorney can make effective arguments which will serve as a basis for a Judge to reduce the offense to a lesser charge. A reduction would result in much lower insurance rates which could potentially result in significant savings on auto insurance premiums.

1. When pulled over, be cooperative, polite and compliant.

Do not argue with the officer. Your cooperation is perhaps the most effective argument an attorney can make when requesting a reduction. Arguments are for the courtroom- arguing with an officer on the side of the road will hurt your credibility in court.

2. Have your speedometer calibrated.

Do this as soon as possible after you have been charged with Reckless Driving. The longer you wait, the less credibility your argument will have that the speedometer was defective on the date of the alleged offense.

3. If you were cited for any other offenses, take care of those issues as soon as possible.

Often times the officer will cite a driver for additional offenses that only carry fines, such as tinted windows, expired inspection, or expired tags. Take care of these issues as soon as possible and keep receipts and documentation to present to the court. This will demonstrate to the court that you respect the laws of the Commonwealth and will increase your credibility.

4. Enroll in an approved Driver Improvement School.

Many of these schools can be found online and do not require actual physical attendance. For a minimal fee you can complete a course and print out a Certificate of Completion to present to the Judge on your court date. This will show the Judge that you are taking the offense seriously and thus increases the likelihood it may be reduced.

5. Retain an attorney.

Even the most well composed people may get flustered in a court room situation. Hire someone who can articulately make legal arguments as well as arguments for a reduction should that be necessary. In addition, your attorney may speak with the officer in advance of your case being called to garner valuable information or simply explain to the officer why the offense should be reduced with the goal of persuading him or her to communicate to the Judge that they are not opposed to a reduction of the charge.

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