1. BE POLITE– As you begin the process of attending a bond hearing, be polite to the employees of the detention center. These men and women have nothing to do your case and are merely doing their job. Also, make sure you are courteous and polite to the Judge at your hearing. Always say yes sir or ma’am or no sir or ma’am to the court. Remember that all statements you make at your bond hearing can be used against you, so do not make any statements concerning the facts of your case.
2. IF YOU ARE ATTENDING THE HEARING as a family member, friend, or supporter, you should arrive ½ an hour early to the jail where the defendant is being held. Make sure you bring a picture ID to enter the detention center. Also, be prepared to go through security measures upon entering the facility. Click here for a list of County Jails in South Carolina.
3. TURNING YOURSELF IN– If you are turning yourself in at the jail, you should be 3-4 hours early to allow for processing. If you do not make the list for the bond court closest to your arrest, you will be held over (sometimes overnight) until the next bond hearing. Once your bond has been set and you posted (see below), it normally takes 4-6 hours to be released from jail.
4. WHAT WILL HAPPEN AT THE HEARING– When you are charged with a crime that does not carry the possible punishment of Life without Parole (Murder or Burglary in the 1st degree), your bond will be set by a South Carolina Magistrate or South Carolina Municipal Court Judge. This Judge may consider two main factors in determining your bond. (1) Are you a flight risk? (2) Are you a danger to the community? Some of the times issues that a judge considers in these two areas are a person’s: (1) criminal history, (2) seriousness of the offense charged, (3) employment status, (4) how long you have been at your current residence, and (5) victim impact testimony (see below). This is not an exclusive list, but they are factors that go into most bond settings.
5. WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF BOND AND HOW DO I POST THEM? There are 3 types of bonds a criminal defendant can receive in bond court.
The first type of criminal bond is a personal recognizance bond (PR bond). A PR bond allows a defendant to be released without posting any money with the court. Basically, the court is allowing the defendant to be released on his promise to appear when his case is called for trial.
The second type of criminal bond is a surety bond. A surety bond means that the individual must post money with the court in order to be released. For example, if a judge sets a $10,000 surety bond, the defendant must post $10,000 in cash or real estate with the court. If the defendant fails to appear when his case is called for trial, he may forfeit the $10,000 he has paid or if he posted his home as surety, the court may begin foreclosure proceedings.
The third type of criminal bond is a surety bond with a ten percent cash option. This is similar to a simple surety bond; however, it allows a defendant to post the cash equivalent of ten percent of the total bond amount. For example, if a defendant receives a $10,000 surety bond with a ten percent option he can post $10,000 in real estate / property or just $1,000 in cash.
Often times, those accused of a crime in South Carolina are given a bond that he simply cannot afford. Thus the defendant remains jailed while waiting for his trial date. If this is the case, the defendant may make a motion for a bond reduction to an amount more reasonable or affordable.
6. WHY AM I BEING HELD FOR A GENERAL SESSIONS COURT JUDGE? If you are charged with a crime that carries life without parole or you have been indicted by the State-wide Grand Jury, you will be held for a bond hearing before a judge of the Court of General Sessions.
7. VICTIM IMPACT– Victims have a right to be notified of the haring when they are a victim. They can choose to attend or not attend the hearing. Usually, a judge will allow for a defendant to be held until the next hearing to allow for the victim to be present.
8. WHAT IF I CAN’T MAKE MY BOND– You may be entitled to a bond reduction. Your lawyer would need to file motion in the Court of General Sessions to reduce your bond. You would then be entitled to a bond reduction hearing before a South Carolina General Sessions Court Judge who could, but does not have to, lower your bond.
9. REPRESENTATION AT HEARING
You have the right to have a criminal lawyer represent you at your bond hearing. Your family or friend should contact a criminal defense attorney prior to your bond hearing so the criminal lawyer will be prepared to argue the merits of your bond to the Judge.