Bail Bond process
Step One: The Bond Hearing
After arrest, a police officer will take the defendant to jail for processing. Then, the judge will give you access to bail during a scheduled bond hearing. The bond schedule will determine the bail amount based on the offense. The bond process depends on the nature of the charge.
The court will grant bail fairly quickly if the person is facing a simple charge.
The following is a snapshot of what you could pay in South Carolina:
- Drug Possession: $500 to $2,500
- Robbery: $25,000 to $100,000
- Burglary: $20,000 to $50,000
- Voluntary Manslaughter: $100,000
- Involuntary Manslaughter: $25,000
- Public Intoxication: $200 to $500
- Assault: $2,500 to $10,000
For complex charges (i.e. violent offenses), the process may take longer, and a judge must determine the amount based on the severity of the offense. In some cases, the court could deny bail altogether. For instance, murder usually carries no bail, or a judge could impose a $1 million bail.
Regardless of the offense, the court will establish bail terms and payment options. When it comes to payment options, you can post bond in the following ways:
- Own Recognizance: This option is available to minor offenders. A judge is confident enough that you’ll appear for future court dates.
- Property Bond: The court will release the defendant if they have assets that are equal to or greater than the bond amount. If you don’t show up for your court date, the court will issue an arrest warrant and seize your assets.
- Cash Bond: This option compels defendants to pay the entire bond amount in cash.
If the accused cannot afford to pay the balance, a bail agent can help them.
Step Two: Contact a Bond Agent
After the state establishes bail, contact a bond agent to get out of jail. Before release, you must also agree to the terms of the bond agent and the court. When you agree to the bond agent’s terms, you form a surety bond.
A surety bond occurs when the bondsman posts bail on the defendant’s behalf. The agent charges them a certain percentage of the bond. South Carolina bond agents usually charge up to 15%.
The state limits the bond amount to 15%. That said, the bond agent can charge less and determine the amount based on such factors as age, criminal history, and offense.
Defendants must honor the surety bond in two key ways:
- Collateral: This option is similar to property bonds. The defendant will pledge assets to pay the amount owed. If you fail to honor the terms (i.e. not showing up to court or violating the bond terms), the bond agent can recover the assets as payment.
- Co-Signer: Even if the defendant has enough money to pay the bond, bond agents usually require a co-signer. The co-signer will be responsible for the defendant’s actions.
Additionally, the co-signer must meet certain criteria. For example, the co-signer may need to submit two consecutive paystubs before signing on. Overall, the co-signing conditions depend on the bond agency.
Step Three: The Release
When you agree to the terms and pay the bond, the agent will post bail at the local jail. It usually takes one or two hours for jail officials to process a defendant’s release.
Upon release, the defendant must honor the terms by attending court hearings and abiding by the bond terms. The bond rules depend on the agent, but defendants usually must adhere to the following stipulations:
- Wearing tracking and monitoring devices
- Attending check-ins
- Submitting to drug and alcohol tests
- Abiding by travel restrictions
When it comes to travel restrictions, defendants generally must not travel outside of South Carolina. Additionally, some bond agents will charge less than 15% but will add additional terms to the bail.
- Example: A bond agent could charge 10%, but they could add more limitations in the form of monitoring devices and or property as collateral.
Therefore, inquire about the bond terms before hiring the agent.
Step Four: Follow the Bond Terms
Your main priority is to meet the bond terms and conditions at all costs. Above all, attend court hearings. If you don’t, you’ll not only face the wrath of your bond agent but the court as well. First, the judge will issue a bench warrant for your arrest.
If you miss the court date, the bond agent must pay the bond. The agent must also find the defendant and bring him or her back into custody.