The process of setting bail involves deciding the least restrictive method that reasonably assures the defendant will show up for all court appearances. In some cases that could be a signature bond. Often, conditions are included. In South Carolina, there are laws that help court officials decide what issues to consider to determine what, if any, conditions should be included in bail documents. The first step is to examine and the charge and the circumstances of the arrest. Then, state law requires court officials to examine a defendant’s family ties, employment situation, financial resources, character and mental condition, length of residence in community, prior convictions and any record of flight to avoid prosecution.
If you are arrested in South Carolina, here are 5 things you need to know about getting bail:
1. 4 Ways to Get Out of Jail
Personal recognizance – This option allows a defendant to be released without paying bail. It is used only if the defendant presents no danger and is likely to show up in court. The defendant acknowledges a bail amount, but does not pay that amount before release.
Cash bond – If the defendant would rather pay bail to the court than a bail bond agent, cash bond is the option. However, the entire amount of bail must be paid. The court takes the money and returns all but fees and court costs as long as the defendant shows up for all court hearings. The cash bond is generally not used for more serious crimes because few defendants or co-signers have enough money.
Cash percentage of bond – This is similar to 10 Percent Bonds that some states offer as an option for defendants to pay money to the court instead of a bail bond agent. This is a good choice when a defendant doesn’t have the money to pay for an expensive bail all in cash. Instead, 10 percent in cash is sufficient. If, however, the defendant doesn’t show up for all court hearing, the full amount of the bond must be paid. Co-signers can be used to help come up with enough money.
Property bond – Putting up a home, car or other property to get bail is a fairly complicated process that includes plenty of paperwork, such as the Application for Pledge of Real Estate for Sure bond and the Certification of Value of Real Estate for a bond. The property must be located in the state and all owners must sign off on the transaction.
2. How to Get Bail
Most bonds are set by Summary Courts in the state – this is a combination of the Magistrate Courts and Municipal Courts. However, if your offense is a misdemeanor, the amount of the bail is likely included on schedules that are posted in all courts. After getting booked into jail, defendants can begin the process of paying cash bail or getting in contact with a co-signor or bail bond agent – or both.
3. What Will Bail Cost?
For cash bond and cash percentage of bond, the defendant will only have to pay state costs and court fees. That’s also involved in a surety bond, but in addition, the defendant must pay a 10 percent premium to the bail bond agent. There are no other costs unless the defendant doesn’t show up for all court hearings and the bail is forfeited.
4. How Long Will I Stay in Jail?
According to South Carolina law, all defendants must have an initial hearing with 48 hours of arrest. However, if the crime involve has a preset bail, there is no need to wait a day or two for a bond hearing. The booking process takes about 1 to 3 hours, longer at bigger, more crowded facilities. Bail can be completed and the defendant released in another 1 to 3 hours. There are longer waits for more serious crimes that require a bond hearing and for arrests that occur at night.
5. What if I Miss a Court Appearance?
The court immediately issues a bench warrant for the defendant. This adds a second charge – on top of the original crime that brought the defendant to jail in the first. In addition, a cash bond is lost once the bail forfeiture is complete. The bail bond agent and co-signers have some time to bring the defendant back to jail. The forfeiture is final if that doesn’t happen and if a bail bond company was involved, the company will sue the defendant and any co-signer for the entire amount of bail. With a cash percentage of bond, the defendant, or a co-signer, is legally responsible for the entire amount of bail.
This article is for informational purposes only. See an attorney if you need legal advice.