If you have been arrested for a crime in North Carolina, you are likely to be brought before a magistrate judge who will set bond for the offense(s) charged. Depending on the nature of that bond, you might then have to stay in jail until you post that bond or your case is resolved. For most individuals, their first priority is to regain their freedom. Another top priority should be to invoke your right to remain silent and your right to counsel. Remember, you must state very clearly and specifically to the officers, “I want to speak to my attorney before I answer any questions.” Simply asking ‘if’ you need any attorney is not the same as invoking your right to counsel.
What is a Bond in North Carolina?
In some situations where you are charged with a crime in North Carolina, the police may simply issue you a ticket and require you to appear in court at a later date. But for more serious misdemeanors and felonies you would be arrested, taken into custody and brought to a local facility for an appearance before a magistrate judge. The magistrate determines if there is probable cause for the arrest and sets the terms and amount of your bond. In some situations such as domestic violence charges or murders the magistrate may not be able to set a bond, but usually, the magistrate has wide discretion to decide not only the amount of the bond, but also the type of bond to be set. A lawyer may be able to speak to the magistrate on your behalf to try to have a lower bond set.
There are several different types of bonds that can be set in North Carolina:
- Written Promise to Appear: This is not really a bond at all, and it means exactly what it sounds like: the defendant is free to leave custody on their written promise to show up on their court date.
- Unsecured Bond: the magistrate sets a monetary bond but the defendant is not required to actually pay that money in order to be released from jail. However, if they fail to appear for a required court date then they would have a judgment against them for that amount of money and, if they are later caught they would have to pay that as well as a new, higher bond in order to get back out of jail.
- Secured Bond: a monetary bond that can be satisfied by paying cash in that amount, hiring a bonding company, or using some sort of acceptable collateral such as real property. This is probably the most common type of bond.
- Cash Bond: a monetary bond that can only be paid using United States currency.
When you post bond, you provide the court with security to ensure you will appear at the date and time of your court hearing. If you attend all court dates as scheduled, the bond is returned to you. According to the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, when someone is required to post bond, the bond amount must not be excessive. The requirement for a defendant to post bond is not intended as a punishment but as a strong incentive for the defendant to return to court. If your attorney feels the bond amount is excessive, there are procedures in place to appeal the bond amount before you post bond.
Now that the Bond Amount is Set, How do I Post Bond?
The three ways you can post bond in North Carolina are:
- Paying the entire bond amount to the court
- Offering the court collateral equal to or in excess of the bond amount (i.e. your home)
- Hiring a bail bondsman to post bond
Most people do not have the resources to pay the entire amount owed and get out of jail, so for them, there are a couple of options. First, they can hire a bail bondsman. A bonding company will sign a contract with the defendant where they agree to be responsible for the entire bond in exchange for payment of a fee and/or other collateral. The bonding fee is generally capped at 15% of the total bond amount but can often be lower than that. The disadvantage of hiring a bail bondsman is that the defendant does not get a refund of the fee they paid when the case is over.
The second option is to seek a bond reduction. The court has the power to modify a bond at any time. A lawyer can go before a judge and seek to have the amount of the bond lowered or even converted to an unsecured bond. The first priority of most defendants is to get out of jail quickly, but they also have limited resources to use to post bond and hire a lawyer. A common mistake is to pay a bonding company first to get out of jail, leaving the defendant with little money to get a defense lawyer. A better strategy is to hire a lawyer first who can then get the bond reduced so it costs less to hire a bondsman.
Do You Need an Experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney to Help You at a Bond Hearing?
“Attorneys Who Aggressively Protect Your Rights”
The Trevor J. Avery Law Firm is a full-service Jacksonville criminal defense law firm dedicated to providing you with affordable legal representation. We aggressively fight for your right to receive the best possible outcome given your circumstances. Our attorneys communicate regularly with each client to provide case status updates because we understand this is a stressful time in your life. Good communication between you and your criminal defense attorney helps reduce that stress.
When you are facing a criminal charge, you need and you want an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your corner who is working for you, who knows the law, and who has the experience to get results.
The Trevor J. Avery Law Firm represents clients throughout Duplin County, Onslow County and the surrounding communities. Call our office at (910) 405-8459 or contact us online today for a free case evaluation.