Under the U.S. Constitution, you are entitled to a reasonable bond unless there is cause to believe you are a flight risk or danger to the community.
Situations when bond could be delayed or denied
Under Virginia law, in certain situations, you are presumed to be a danger to the community or flight risk and bond may be delayed or denied. For example, if you were arrested for a violent crime or have another pending felony when arrested. This is known as the presumption against bond.
If you have a presumption against you, you will be granted bond at the time of your arrest, and you likely won’t have a realistic chance at bond until you get an attorney to file a bond motion for you. When facing a serious felony charge, you must plan to spend at least some time in jail when you are initially arrested. Hiring an attorney at the earliest possible time will help minimize time spent in custody after arrest.
How bond hearings work
In presumption cases, instead of the burden being on the government to show that you are a flight risk or danger to the community, the burden is shifted to the defendant. This makes the bond hearings serious business, often requiring witness testimony and other evidence.
By law, a judge must consider the following circumstances when deciding to grant bond or not in these situations:
• The nature and circumstances of the offense charged (i.e., whether a weapon was used, etc.)
• The person’s character and reputation in the community
• His or her physical and mental condition
• Local family ties
• Financial resources
• Length of residence in the community
• Local community ties
• Past criminal history
• History of violence
• History relating to drug or alcohol abuse
• Membership in a criminal street gang
• Previous failures to appear for court hearings
• The nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community that would be posed by the person’s release.
The role of witnesses
Witness testimony is often needed to establish these factors. Family and friends can play important roles in showing a judge that you will maintain the peace if granted release. Evidence of local ties is vital to show lack of flight risk. Out of state defendants without a local address have a very difficult time getting a bond in these cases. Also, sex offenses and those involving use of violence often result in pretrial detention regardless of whether or not you profess your innocence.
Secured vs. unsecured bond
Once you get a bond, it may be secured or unsecured. With unsecured, you do not have to pay any money before being released. With a secured bond, you must pay either the cash amount or have a surety (bondsman) sign for your appearance in court. You must pay the bondsman a fee for this (usually 10% of the bond amount). Once out on bond, keep in touch with your lawyer and appear for all court hearings, else risk having your bond revoked.
You may also be required to comply with pre-trial supervision services. This is similar to probation but obviously takes place before any conviction has resulted. Pre-trial supervision often includes substance abuse screening or mental health treatment. Failure to comply with any conditions of pre-trial supervision will result in the issuance of an arrest warrant and possible indefinite pre-trial detention.
Getting legal help
Mounting a defense for a bond hearing is best achieved with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call or email Nichols Zauzig today for a free consultation and find out how we can help you.