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Being arrested and charged with a crime can be a traumatic experience. One of the first questions that individuals may have is whether they will be released on bail. In South Carolina, the bail process can be complex and confusing. In this post, we’ll provide an overview of the bail process in South Carolina and what you can expect if you or a loved one is facing criminal charges.
What is Bail?
Bail is a legal agreement that allows a defendant to be released from custody while awaiting trial. The purpose of bail is to ensure that the defendant will appear in court as required and not flee the jurisdiction. Bail can take many forms, including cash bail, property bond, or surety bond.
How Does Bail Work in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, the bail process begins with a bond hearing. At the bond hearing, a judge will determine the amount of bail that must be posted for the defendant to be released from custody. The judge may also impose conditions on the defendant’s release, such as house arrest or electronic monitoring.
If the defendant or their family cannot afford to post the bail amount, they may choose to work with a bail bondsman. A bail bondsman will post the bail amount for the defendant in exchange for a fee, usually 10% of the total bail amount. The bail bondsman is responsible for ensuring that the defendant appears in court as required. If the defendant fails to appear, the bail bondsman may be required to pay the full bail amount.
Types of Bail
In South Carolina, there are three types of bail: personal recognizance, cash bail, and surety bail. Personal recognizance is when the defendant is released from custody without having to pay anything, but they sign a written promise to appear in court on the scheduled date. This type of bail is typically reserved for non-violent offenses and first-time offenders.
Cash bail is when the defendant pays the full amount of bail in cash or with a cashier’s check. This is typically required for more serious offenses, and the amount of bail can be quite high. If the defendant appears in court as required, the bail will be returned at the end of the trial. However, if the defendant fails to appear, the bail will be forfeited to the court. Sometimes, a judge can order that only 10% of the total bail amount is required to be posted for the person to be released.
Surety bail is when a bail bondsman pays the full amount of bail on behalf of the defendant, in exchange for a fee. This fee is typically 10% of the total bail amount, and the bondsman may require collateral to secure the bond. If the defendant fails to appear in court, the bondsman may be required to pay the full amount of bail to the court.
Factors That Influence Bail
The amount of bail that is set for a defendant can vary depending on several factors. These factors can include the severity of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history, the defendant’s ties to the community, and the likelihood that the defendant will flee. In some cases, the judge may deny bail altogether if they believe the defendant is a flight risk or a danger to the community.
If the defendant is unable to pay the full amount of bail, they may be required to go through a bail hearing. At this hearing, the judge will consider the factors mentioned above and any other relevant information to determine the appropriate amount of bail. The defendant may also have the opportunity to present evidence in support of a lower bail amount.
If the defendant or their loved ones can pay the full amount of bail, they can do so at the court or the jail where the defendant is being held. If the defendant is unable to pay the full amount of bail, they may need to work with a bail bondsman to secure a surety bond. The bail bondsman will require a fee and collateral and will post the bond with the court on behalf of the defendant.
It’s important to note that if the defendant fails to appear in court as required, the bail will be forfeited, and the defendant may be re-arrested. In addition, if the defendant is found guilty of the charges, the bail may be used to pay any fines or restitution that are owed.
What Happens if Bail is Denied?
In some cases, a judge may deny bail if they believe that the defendant poses a flight risk or a danger to the community. In these cases, the defendant will be held in custody until their trial. However, the defendant may have the opportunity to request a bond reconsideration hearing, where they can present additional evidence to support their release on bail.
If the defendant is released on bail, it’s important to remember that they are still subject to the conditions of their release. Violating the conditions of release can result in the bail being revoked and the defendant being returned to custody.
Do You or Someone You Love Need Help with A Bail or Bond For A Criminal Charge in South Carolina?
The bail process in South Carolina can be complicated, but understanding how it works can help alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty that comes with being charged with a crime. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, working with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help guide you through the legal process and protect your rights is important. Contact our South Carolina criminal defense attorneys by calling 803-548-2468 or contact us online to ensure your legal rights and best interests come first.