Bonds and Bond Hearings

This post does not constitute legal advice. This post does not constitute an attorney-client relationship between you and I. Until you retain me, I am not your attorney. Moreover, this post is general information, and it does not replace the advice and counsel of an attorney that has reviewed the evidence in your case and has investigated the case on your behalf. In plain English, this is just general information; I do not represent you; my posts do not replace your attorney’s advice.

What is a bond?

Bond is essentially a promise from a defendant to the court that if the court releases the defendant from confinement during the pendency of his criminal case, he will obey the court’s orders, such as appearing for his court dates, having no contact with the alleged victim, et cetera.

When do I get a bond?

The earliest that a defendant can get bond is at the first appearance hearing. In most cases, bond is set at the first appearance, unless the State has charged the defendant with an offense that only a Superior Court Judge can set bond or the defendant is on probation or parole. Defendants charged with a misdemeanor offenses are entitled to bond, per Georgia statue, but not to a particular dollar amount. If the Magistrate Court judge does not set bond at the first appearance, then the next available time for the defendant to obtain a bond is either a.) at his preliminary hearing, or b.) when his attorney files a petition for bond in either Superior or State Court.

What happens at a bond hearing?

At a bond hearing, the defendant has the ability to present witnesses and evidence to support his claim that the court should set him bond for the charges against him. The State has the ability to present witnesses and evidence to show the opposite. Moreover, the State presents a rough sketch of the charges against the defendant to support their position that the defendant is not entitled to bond, or to the amount that he is seeking.

What does judge consider when making a decision on bond?

The following is a list of some of the most common factors that a judge will consider when making a decision on a defendant’s request for bond:

  • the defendant has any ties to the community,
  • is the defendant employed,
  • does the defendant have family that he must support,
  • does the defendant pose a risk to the witnesses in the pending case,
  • does the defendant pose a risk of committing additional crimes while out on bond,
  • does the defendant pose a risk to property in the county,
  • does the defendant pose a risk to himself or to others,
  • the maximum punishment associated with the charges against the defendant,
  • the defendant’s prior criminal history, and
  • whether the defendant has a history of failing to appear for court dates in the past.

Can a judge deny my request for bond?

Yes, a judge can deny a defendant’s request for bond, except for in the cases of misdemeanors or cases where the State has not obtained a bill of indictment against a defendant within 90 days of his arrest. In serious felony cases, it is common for a judge to deny bond to a defendant.

My bond is too high; why can’t the judge give me a bond that I can make?

Although there is litigation on the issue of bonds being too expensive, the current state of the law in Georgia is that a defendant is not entitled to a bond amount that he can make. If a defendant thinks his bond is too high, he can petition the court to reduce his bond or file a pre-conviction writ of habeas corpus claiming that the bond amount in his case is too high and is tantamount to no bond or punishment for his crimes. If the judge denies a defendant’s motion for a bond reduction or denies his writ of habeas corpus, then he can appeal the ruling to proper appellate court in Georgia.

How do I post a bond?

In Georgia, a defendant can post bond in one of four ways: cash, property, through a bondsman / surety, or by the defendant’s own recognizance.

A cash bond is the simplest bond to explain. If a defendant has a bond, then an adult can go to the Sheriff’s Office and put up the entire amount of the defendant’s bond in cash. The Sheriff’s office holds the cash, until the disposition of the defendant’s case. Once the defendant’s case has been disposed of, then the Sheriff’s Office returns the cash to the person that posted it for the defendant. In ordinance cases and misdemeanors, it is easier for defendants to post a cash bond. However, in felony cases, the bond amounts can be very high, and it is impractical for most defendants to post bond in this manner.

A property bond involves someone pledges his or her property to get the defendant out of jail. The property has to be in Georgia. The Sheriff has to approve the property to be used for the bond. The taxes on the property that a defendant’s family or friends wish to use to bond the defendant out have to be current. In most counties, the Sheriff will approve a property only if the equity in the property to be twice or three times as much as the defendant’s bond. One of the most common ways to establish the value of the property is through the county tax assessment records that property owners get every year. If a person uses their property to post a defendant’s bond, then that bond is a lien on the person’s property. If the defendant fails to appear for court, then the person that posted the bond is subject to losing their property through a bond forfeiture proceeding. In addition, posting a defendant’s bond via a property bond limits what the person can do with their property, i.e. selling it, refinancing it, or borrowing against it. The foregoing is a couple of reasons why most defendants do not try to post their bond via a property bond.

A bondsman is a person or company that the Sheriff has approved to post bonds for defendants in that county. Posting bonds for defendants is the business of a bondsman. Georgia law allows them to charge a fee between 12 to 15% of the bond amount to people that want to use their services to get a particular defendants. This fee is non-refundable.

A recognizance bond is known as a signature bond. It is where a defendant signs his name, and he promises to appear for court & to obey the court’s instructions listed on his bond. Signature bonds are rare. Judges use them only in either minor cases or when there are serious mitigating circumstances that justify the court granting such relief.

If you have a loved one in custody and he is need of a bond, call me at 404-585-1377 to schedule an appointment to discuss your loved one’s case.

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