Lawmakers in West Virginia have passed several laws that place conditions on bail when certain crimes are involved. For example, when child abuse has been alleged, the bail must include the stipulation that the defendant cannot live in the same residence or have any contact with the victim. If the offense is a crime involving household or family members, bail can include the condition that the defendant “shall not have any contact whatsoever, direct or indirect, verbal or physical, with the victim or complainant.”
If you are arrested in West Virginia, here are 5 things to know about posting bail:
1. 3 Ways to Get Out of Jail
Recognizance – A recognizance order must be signed by at least one other adult person who owns real estate in West Virginia, in addition to the defendant. The court can require that “justification of surety” be involved in a recognizance. The recognizance also can be signed by a defendant and a surety company in the state. There are only two situations in which a defendant is released without these additional guarantees: if the offense is a misdemeanor or if the defendant is an indigent. In both cases, the court must be satisfied that the defendant will appear for all court hearings as required.
Cash bond – A cash bond must match the total amount of bail. It can be posted by the defendant, a co-signor or a combination of both. If the defendant shows up for all court hearings, the cash is returned, minus only court fees and costs.
Recognizance with cash bond – The court can require any defendant, with or without the help of surety, to post 10 percent of the amount of bail with the clerk of court. The fee is refunded as long as the defendant shows up for all court hearings.
2. How to Get Bail
A defendant must first be booked, a process that can sometimes take a couple of hours or more, involving photographs, fingerprinting and plenty of paperwork. At that point, the defendant is given the opportunity to post a cash bond or to contact family, friends or a bail bond agent to assist with the bail process.
3. What Will Bail Cost?
If a bail bond company is used, the common premium is 10 percent of the total amount of the bail. The most significant cost for a defendant or co-signer occurs when the defendant does not show up for all court hearings. When a bail forfeiture is ordered, the court retains all payments, and in the event of 10 percent deposits, can seek the entire amount of the bail from the defendant or surety.
4. How Long Will I Stay in Jail?
Booking and posting bail, if the amount is known immediately, can take anywhere from 2 to 6 hours. Larger county jails will often take longer because of number of defendants booked and released on bond every day. Defendants arrested for more serious crimes will be in jail longer awaiting a bond hearing. A defendant who wants to contest the amount of bail in a bond reduction hearing also will spend more time in jail.
5. What if I Miss a Court Appearance?
A defendant can argue, with the help of an experienced attorney, to have a bail forfeiture order set aside because there was no intention to violate bail conditions. If that is not successful, the court will issue an arrest warrant for failure to appear. If the defendant’s initial offense was a misdemeanor, the failure to appear will be second misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to 1 year in jail or both. If the originating crime was a felony, then the defendant is guilty of a second felony, punishable by a fine of no more than $4,000, up to 5 years in jail or both. In addition, the entire any bail will be forfeited and the defendant and any surety will be required to pay the entire amount of the bail.
This article is for informational purposes only. If you need legal advice you should visit an attorney.