For the average person, being arrested and accused of a criminal offense is a traumatic experience, particularly if it is the first time. Understandably, the most immediate an arrestee typically has is getting out of jail. Even first-time defendants usually know that the way out of custody is through payment of bail. Is everyone entitled to bail though? How much is a reasonable amount to have to pay to secure your release and who determines that amount? An Omaha criminal defense attorney answers some important questions about bail in the State of Nebraska.
Your Constitutional Right to Bond
The payment of bail, also referred to as a “bond,” has been around for a long time. Fortunately, however, in the United States, everyone is entitled to bond, not just noblemen and those with connections in high places. Your right to bail can be found in the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution which guarantees that “Excessive bail shall not be required.” The nation’s high court has since interpreted that right to mean that in almost all criminal prosecutions – murder being the only exception in state court – a defendant is entitled to a reasonable bond that allows him/her to be released from custody while the criminal prosecution is pending.
Bail in Nebraska
Unlike many other states, Nebraska does not allow private or commercial bail bondsmen. Instead, bail is paid directly to the jail or clerk. That also means that certain types of bail are handled a little differently than they are in other states.
Nebraska Revised Statutes Section 29-901 et seq. governs bail in Nebraska. That section begins as follows:
“Any bailable defendant shall be ordered released from custody pending judgment on his or her personal recognizance unless the judge determines in the exercise of his or her discretion that such a release will not reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant as required or that such a release could jeopardize the safety and maintenance of evidence or the safety of victims, witnesses, or other persons in the community. The court shall consider all methods of bond and conditions of release to avoid pretrial incarceration. If the judge determines that the defendant shall not be released on his or her personal recognizance, the judge shall consider the defendant’s financial ability to pay a bond and shall impose the least onerous of the following conditions that will reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance or that will eliminate or minimize the risk of harm to others or the public at large…”
NRS 29-901 effectively directs that a defendant should be released on his/her own recognizance (without paying a monetary bail or requiring a surety) unless the court determines that additional conditions are necessary to ensure that defendant’s return to court and/or to ensure the safety of the community. If the judge decides that additional conditions are necessary, they could include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Place the defendant in the custody of a designated person or organization agreeing to supervise the defendant.
- Restrict the defendant’s movements
- Require to the defendant to pay an “appearance bond.” The defendant must pay 10 percent of the appearance bond amount to the Clerk of Court.
- Require a friend or relative to pay a surety bond. The friend or relative must be approved by the court.
- Require the defendant to pay a cash bond. In this case, the defendant must pay the entire amount.
- Order the defendant to comply with a pre-trial release program, the conditions of which may include things such as:
- Periodic telephone contact by the defendant with the organization or pretrial services program;
- Periodic office visits by the defendant to the organization or pretrial services program;
- Periodic visits to the defendant’s home by the organization or pretrial services program;
- Mental health or substance abuse treatment for the defendant, including residential treatment, if the defendant consents or agrees to the treatment;
- Periodic alcohol or drug testing of the defendant;
- Domestic violence counseling for the defendant, if the defendant consents or agrees to the counseling;
- Electronic or global-positioning monitoring of the defendant; and
Contact an Omaha Criminal Defense Attorney at Petersen Law Office
If you (or a loved one) have been charged with a criminal offense in Nebraska, and you have additional questions about bail, consult with an experienced Omaha criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.