What is a Bond Hearing? What if I Need a Bond Reduction?

person in jail who needs a bond hearing or a bond reduction

Generally, in North Carolina, when a person is charged with a crime and subsequently arrested that person must remain in jail until a bond is posted. There are three different types of bonds in North Carolina. Every defendant in custody is entitled to a bond hearing. If you are unable to make your bond a criminal defense attorney can file a bond reduction motion on your behalf.

Types of bonds

Unsecured Bond

  • No money is needed to bond out of jail. This can occur when a person is given a written promise to appear. More commonly this also occurs when an unsecured bond is set. Typically, an unsecured bond is backed with a promise that you will appear for your court dates but if you fail to appear you will owe a predetermined amount of money to the court. For example, if a judge sets a $5,000.00 unsecured bond the defendant will not pay any money to be released to jail but if the defendant misses court he will owe $5,000.00 to the court.

Secured Bond

  • When a secured bond is set you must pay the full amount of the bond in order to be released from jail. If the defendant does not miss court the defendant’s bond will be returned to him. In most cases the defendant will instead find a bail bondsman who will act as a “surety” and ensure that that the defendant will come to court. A bail bondsman will usually charge 10-15% of the total bond. Regardless if the defendant misses court or not he will not be returned the money paid to his bondsman.

For example, if a judge sets a $5,000.00 secured bond the defendant has two options:

  • either pay $5,000.00 or
  • pay a bail bondsman $500.00 - $750.00.

If you miss court and did not use a bail bondsman then the clerk of court will enter a bond forfeiture and the money you paid to bond out of jail will not be returned to you.

Cash Bond

  • Cash bonds are rarely used in North Carolina. A cash bond is similar to a secured bond with the exception that the defendant cannot use a bail bondsman to ensure his appearance in court. Therefore, the defendant must pay the entire bond amount to be released from jail. There are moral concerns with cash bonds. Cash bonds are extremely prejudicial towards people in poverty. Essentially a person who cannot afford their cash bond will wait in jail until their trial. As you can imagine this means that some people may plead guilty to a crime that they didn’t commit because they want to be released from jail.

Please note that any time you miss court under any of these types of bonds an order for your arrest will likely be issued. If you have a legitimate reason for missing court often we can get the order for arrest struck and obtain a new court date onyou behalf.

What Happens at a Bond Hearing?

Every defendant in custody has a bond hearing. The defendant has a constitutional right to be heard on the terms and conditions of his release. During the bond hearing a judge will determine a fair and a reasonable bond.

The judge presiding over a bond hearing considers two major factors in determining what type of bond to set in your case:

  • Is the defendant a flight risk? Meaning, will the defendant show up for court if released on bond?
  • Does the defendant pose a danger to the community if released on bond?
    • Danger to the community is usually determined by:
      • Defendant’s criminal record
      • Type of crime
      • Is it domestic?
      • Is it considered violent or non-violent?
      • Any other relevant factor

Other things the judge considers during a bond hearing:

  • Defendant’s ties to the community
    • Examples of substantial ties to the community are:
      • Owning a home in the community
      • Owning a business in the community
  • Defendant’s employment status
    • Will the defendant lose his job if he is unable to make bail?

It is a good idea to retain an attorney before your bond hearing, especially if you are charged with a felony. An attorney will advocate for you at your bond hearing. Additionally retaining an attorney prior to your bond hearing signals to the judge that you aren’t a flight risk. Lastly, an attorney will ensure you’re given a fair and reasonable bond.

What happens if I cannot afford my bond?

A lawyer can file a bond motion on your behalf to seek to reduce your bond. Our office commonly files bond reductions on behalf of our clients. Some of the reasons our office may file a bond reduction on your behalf include:

  • The defendant’s release would help him assist in his defense against the charges against him
  • The defendant may lose his job if not released
  • The defendant supports his family and is unable to provide financial support while incarcerated

Our firm will fight for you. Ryan Stowe will advocate for you at your bond hearing. If needed, our firm will fight for a bond reduction for you at anytime.

If you have questions about a reasonable bond or a bond reduction contact Ryan Stowe for a consultation. Always seek an attorney to represent you at your bond hearing.