In the United States, an accused is almost always entitled to be released from jail pending trial if the accused can post a satisfactory bond. If you have no prior experience with the criminal justice system, however, the concept of bond and the process required to post a bond can be intimidating and confusing, particularly when you are likely dealing with heightened emotions and attempting to navigate the criminal justice system with which you may be unfamiliar. If you are charged with a violent crime, or are the loved one of someone who is, posting bond can be even more difficult as the court may impose conditions of release in addition to the required bond. A Nebraska violent crime lawyer explains what is involved in determining a bond amount and posting a bond.
The Right to Bond
The concept of bond is hardly a new concept. The primary difference in the United States is that everyone is entitled to bond, not just noblemen and those with connections in high places. The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees that “Excessive bail shall not be required.” That right has been interpreted to mean that in almost all criminal prosecutions – murder being the only exception in state court – a defendant is entitled to a reasonable bond.
What Is a “Reasonable Bond?”
Although an accused has been entitled to a reasonable bond since the 8th Amendment was passed over 200 years ago, the way in which that right was applied was not always clear, much less fair. To correct the wide disparity in bond amounts that were the norm at one time, most states now use bond schedules or matrixes to determine the amount of a defendant’s bond. Typically, a defendant’s initial bond is set using the bond schedule or matrix which usually looks at the severity level of the instant offense and the defendant’s criminal history. If a defendant is unable to pay the bond initially set, the defendant’s defense attorney may request a bond review hearing to try and get the bond lowered. At a bond review hearing, the judge will typically consider three factors when considering a request to lower the bond:
- Risk to the community if released. The judge will consider the defendant’s criminal history, paying particular attention to whether the defendant has been convicted of any violent crimes.
- Risk of flight. The judge will look at the defendant’s ties to the community, specifically to whether the defendant has family in the community, how long he/she has lived in the area, and how long he/she has been employed at a current job. The judge will also consider any past court cases and whether the defendant showed up as ordered to court or failed to appear.
- Severity of the accusations and/or circumstances of the instant offense. The judge will consider the potential punishment if convicted as well as take into account the wishes of an alleged victim if there is one. This factor can be particularly important if the offense involved is considered a violent crime because there is very likely a victim involved and that victim’s wishes will play a big role in the amount of bond set and any additional conditions of release.
Once bond has been set, there are two basic ways to pay it. The first is to pay the entire amount in cash. If the defendant shows up for court as ordered until the case is disposed of, you will get the bond back, minus any expenses such as court courts or fines. The other option is to use a bail bondsman. If you go this route you will only have to pay a percentage of the bond (usually 10 percent) to the bail bondsman who then effectively takes responsibility for the entire bond with the court. The percentage you pay to the bail bondsman is not returned to you as that is the bail bondsman’s fee for covering the entire bond.
Contact a Nebraska Violent Crime Lawyer at Petersen Law Office
If you have been charged with a violent criminal offense in the State of Nebraska, consult with an experienced Nebraska violent crime lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.