After somebody has been arrested on a drug charge, he or she is taken into custody and transported to jail and processed in.
If they don’t retain a bail bond agent, an arraignment is held along with a bond hearing. In some states, the bond hearing is held, and the arraignment is postponed to a later date.
The bond hearing
The purpose of a bond hearing is to secure the defendant’s presence for future court appearances. If a bail bond is posted, the defendant is released from custody. If he or she fails to appear in court in the future, the bond might be forfeited, and a bench warrant could be issued. Many states and counties have bond schedules. Depending on what crime a person is charged with, bond schedules apply. These schedules might provide both low end and high end ranges of bail bonds, and in their sound discretion, a judge can set a bail bond anywhere within those ranges. Bail bonds on minor drug offenses are usually set on the low end of any schedule. Factors that are considered in a bond hearing include:
- What the person was arrested for and whether violence was involved
- Whether the person is a non-resident of the state
- Where they reside and who they reside with
- Any prior criminal history
- Whether the defendant failed to appear in court for prior arrests
- Whether the defendant was arrested while released on bond for another offense
When a bail bond is set, and the defendant is unable to post it, he or she stays in jail until such time as either a plea agreement is entered or a trial is held. While in custody, the defendant can bring a motion to reduce the amount of bail bond. If found guilty in a trial, and the defendant is sentenced to either jail or prison, credit off of their sentence is ordinarily given for the time served awaiting a trial.
Due process of law requires a criminal defendant to be advised of what he or she is charged with and what each charge is punishable by. The defendant ordinarily then enters a plea of not guilty to all charges. Those are the primary purposes of an arraignment. For purposes of judicial economy, many judges will set deadlines for disclosure of all evidence that each side intends to use in a trial. A pretrial conference date is often set for purposes of possibly disposing of the case by a plea of no contest or a plea of guilty. A trial date is also set. If the case isn’t resolved on the pretrial date, it goes to trial either before a judge in a bench trial or a jury trial when 12 people determine the defendant’s guilt or innocence.
Conditions of bail
It’s not unusual for a judge to attach conditions to a bail bond. In a drug case, some conditions might be that the defendant not use any illegal drugs or substances and submit to random drug testing.
Why people use bail bondsmen
When somebody gets arrested, family members or others who are close to the person usually have difficulty raising sufficient cash to pay a bail bond in a short period of time. A bail bondsman covers that cost on behalf of the arrestee, and a premium is paid in return for the bail bondsman’s services. Depending on what state the person was arrested in and the nature of the charge, the premium generally isn’t more than 15 percent of the bail bond. Premiums charged are generally not refundable. They’re governed by state statute.
While awaiting a bail bond hearing and the posting of a bail bond, an arrestee can lose his or her job. There’s also risk in going before a judge who will set a bail bond. A high bail bond could be set, making it extremely difficult for the defendant to raise sufficient funds. Arranging for the defendant’s quick release through the services of a bail bondsman can eliminate the risk of a person losing their job and having an excessive bail bond set by a judge.
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