Pre-Trial Release and Bond
Under some circumstances, the Judge may determine that the defendant is not to be released between arrest and trial. Many times defendants charged in federal court are not released. In state court, Defendants are sometimes not released where the charges are very serious.
However, in most state cases a magistrate judge will determine that the defendant should be released under certain conditions. The magistrate will generally list those conditions in the defendant’s Release Order. If the defendant meets the conditions of Release, then he or she will go free. If not, he or she will remain in jail. A district court judge may review these conditions at the first appearance or at a subsequent bond reduction hearing. In addition, a judge may review these conditions upon a motion for revocation by the prosecutor of pre-trial release for violation of release conditions.
One common release condition is bond. A bond is an amount of money that will be paid to the state if the defendant fails to appear at future court appearances. A bond may be secured or unsecured. If the bond is unsecured, the defendant will only be responsible for paying the amount of the bond if he or she fails to appear in court.
A secured bond requires the defendant to pay the face amount of the bond in order to be released. If the defendant fails to appear, the money will be forfeited to the state. If the defendant does appear, the money will be returned to the defendant after the completion of the case. If the defendant does not have the money necessary to secure release, he or she can pay a bondsman a percentage of the bond. Bondsman will usually charge 10% to 20% depending on the circumstances. The bondsman will pledge the balance to the court. If the defendant fails to appear for court, the bondsman may have to pay the balance of the bond amount to the court. Under those circumstances, the bondsman will attempt to locate the defendant and bring him or her to court. If the defendant elects to use a bondsman, the defendant will not usually get any money back from the court or the bondsman at the conclusion of the case.