Bail process in Charlotte
A defendant arrested for a misdemeanor or felony in Charlotte is brought to the Mecklenberg County Jail, or some other facility, and processed. That includes giving a psychological and medical history, fingerprints and photos. At that point, the defendant has an inmate number and will be allowed to call a family, friend or bail bondsman. Bond is often set quickly, with the help of a schedule, but more serious crimes require a bond hearing. Once the bond has been determined – and for some serious crimes bond may not be available – a defendant can post bond himself or bring in the help of a co-signer.
Types of jail release in Charlotte.
- Written promise to appear. Similar to a personal recognizance, the written promise to appear is used primarily for first-time defendants with crimes that did not involve violence, drugs or children. Having a criminal lawyer to try to persuade a magistrate that this release is in the best interest of the court can be extremely helpful.
- Unsecured bond. A bond magistrate can decide to release a defendant from jail without requiring that any bond be paid. In most cases, a cash bond is still determined, but that amount only comes into play if the defendant does not show up for all required court hearings. At that point, the bond that was set but not collected becomes due and a new, higher bond is set – if the defendant is allowed a second chance.
- Secured bond. Based on the defendant’s criminal history, and the details of the crime allegedly committed, a bond magistrate can decide bond is necessary to ensure appearance at all court hearings. The defendant can post the bond in cash or by hiring a bail bondsman for a surety bond. If that’s the case, North Carolina allow caps the bond premium at 15 bonds of the bond. However, bond companies can charge less than a 15 percent premium.
- Cash only bond. This may be ordered as an additional incentive to ensure a defendant returns for all court hearings. Cash bonds paid to the court are returned, minus court fees, as long as all conditions of bail are followed.
Requirements for co-signers
While these can vary slightly depending on the bail bond company involved, most will require that a co-signer live in Charlotte or nearby. The company will confirm that the co-signer can afford to post bond and, when that is determined, a contract must be signed requiring the co-signer to pay the entire bond amount in the event the defendant does not show up for all court hearings. The co-signer is expected to know the whereabouts of the defendant at all times.
Bond costs and options
The cost is minimal for a defendant who posts a cash bond and shows up for all court hearings. The bond is returned – to the defendant or a co-signer - minus only some local and state fees. The cost of hiring a bail bond company will depend on the company chosen. State law caps the premium paid for a bail bondsman at 15 percent, but companies are allowed to charge less than that amount. In addition, many bail bonds companies offer payment plans for more expensive bonds.