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You Are Entitled to a Bail Bond or a Hearing

If you are arrested for a felony or misdemeanor in Georgia, you are entitled either to a bond or a hearing to determine if bond will be set. If bond is set, you usually can post it in one of three ways.

Three Ways to Post Bail Bond:

1) Cash Bond
First, you can post cash in the full amount of bond. For large bonds, coming up with that much money can be quite difficult. The advantage is that all money is returned once your case is over.
2) Property Bond
Second, you can post a property bond. You will have to check with the County Sheriff to find out what he wants you to do. Generally the equity in the property must be twice the amount of the bond. The obvious advantage is that no money is required.
3) Bail Bondsman (Surety)
Third, and most popular, is paying a bail bondsman (also called a surety) to go on your bond. Bondsmen charge a fee to sign onto your bond. This fee is set by statute OCGA 17-6-30. The bondsman can charge you up to 15% of the bond amount, and can charge a minimum fee of $50.00 even if this exceeds 15%. The fee is not refundable.

If you hire a bail bondsman, and if you are not local, the bondsman might have you pay collateral in excess of the fee. This collateral will be returned to you once your case is over.

Own Recognizance

Sometimes a judge will set an Own Recognizance (OR) bond. This means you just have to sign your signature. No property or case is needed. This type of bond is rarely granted.

More Detailed Bail Bond Information

If you need more detailed information on Georgia bail bonds, click on the following links for material I prepared for a lecture to new lawyers. It contains some legalese, but should answer any questions you might have:

  • Purpose of Bail Bonds: In Georgia, as well as the rest of the United States, the purpose of a pretrial bond is “to prevent punishment before a conviction and to secure the appearance of the person in court for trial.” The 8th Amendment to the United States Constitution and Paragraph XVII of Article I, Section I of the Georgia Constitution 1983 prohibit excessive bail for criminal cases. The courts have held that excessive bail is tantamount to refusing bail. This does not mean, however, that all persons are guaranteed a bond that they can afford or even that a bond will even be granted. These situations will be discussed later.

  • Preset Bonds: “The judge of any court of inquiry may by written order establish a schedule of bails . . . .” This means that if a schedule of bails is established, someone charged with committing any offense on the schedule may post bail without having to appear before a judge. An example of an offense that requires an appearance before a judge in order for bail to be set, is an instance of family violence involving serious injury to the victim. Furthermore, if a law enforcement officer makes an arrest for family violence in Georgia without an arrest warrant, the accused will have to appear before a judge to have bail bond set. Since many acts of family violence occur on Friday night, and since most judges are unavailable until the following Monday, the accused has the whole weekend to reflect on his misbehavior.

    • Violations of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-393 (Homicide by Vehicle) shall be set by a judge and not a schedule of bails.

    • OCGA § 17-6-1

  • No Pre-Set Bond; Arrest Warrants: What happens if someone is arrested for an offense where a court of inquiry (usually a Magistrate Judge) can 

    • 1) set a bond, but no schedule of bonds exists, or

    • 2) the offense is one which the accused must appear before the judge for a bond to be set?

    • If arrested without a warrant, the accused must be brought before the judge within 48 hours of arrest or released. If arrested with a warrant, an accused must be brought before the judge within 72 hours of arrest. If not notified prior to the hearing of the time and place of the hearing, the accused shall be released.

  • Offenses Bailable Only by a Superior Court Judge: Certain offenses are bailable only through a Superior Court judge. Some of the offenses include:

    • Treason,

    • Murder,

    • Rape,

    • Aggravated sodomy,

    • Armed robbery,

    • Aircraft hijacking and motor vehicle hijacking,

    • Aggravated child molestation,

    • Aggravated sexual battery,

    • Manufacturing, distributing, delivering, administering or selling a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance,

    • Trafficking in cocaine or marijuana,

    • Kidnapping, arson, aggravated assault,  or burglary if the person had previously been convicted of or on bail for those offenses or any other offense listed above.

    • Aggravated Stalking

      • A complete listing can be found at OCGA § 17-6-1.

    • In the event that a person is detained on an offense bailable only by a Superior Court judge, the Superior Court shall be notified within 48 hours, the Court shall notify the District Attorney, and a bond hearing shall be scheduled within 30 days after receipt of the notice.
      However, if the accused petitions the Court for bail bond, the Court then shall notify the District Attorney and a bail bond hearing set within ten days after the filing of the petition. 

  • Other Points of Law: Someone arrested for certain traffic laws, except suspended license, no proof of insurance, and any other offense for which a license may be suspended on a first offense, may deposit his driver’s license in lieu of bond. (OCGA § 17-6-11) If a person posts bond prior to a preliminary hearing and is later bound over to another court, the original bond shall remain valid unless increased (a decrease has no effect). This applies only when bound over in the same county, but not where the person is bound over to two or more courts.

  • What To Do If No Bond Is Set: (The Following Is Written For Lawyers) If no bond is set, or if the amount set is too high, you can take two different approaches. But before either is taken, you must first talk to your client and determine how much bail bond he can reasonably make. Once this is done, call the assistant District Attorney and see if you can agree on a bond amount within your client’s ability to make. If you can agree, draft a consent order signed by the two of you for the judge’s signature, have the judge sign the order, and make sure it is delivered to the jail.   If no agreement can be reached, a bail bond hearing is necessary. The statute says that if there has not been a bond hearing, that a hearing must be scheduled within 10 days of filing the motion for the hearing. The problem is that there is no remedy if the hearing is scheduled beyond 10 days.

  • The Bond Hearing: ​The standards for granting bail bond in Georgia are based on the 1968 American Bar Association pretrial release standards. A person may be released on bail if he:

    • Poses no significant risk of fleeing;

    • Poses no significant threat or danger to any person, the community, or to property;

    • Poses no significant risk of committing any felony; and

    • Poses no significant risk of intimidating witnesses or otherwise obstructing justice.

    • Defendant's Burden of Proof
      The Georgia Supreme Court has held that, although the state must persuade the trial court by a preponderance of the evidence that the accused is not entitled to pretrial release, the defendant nevertheless has the initial burden of showing he poses no significant risk of flight, threat to the community, of committing another offense, or intimidating witnesses.

The defendant must show ties to the community, employment status and history, history of responding to legal process, and prior criminal record. The State can then rebut this evidence. According to the Supreme Court, if the defendant’s evidence lacks quality, the State may not have to present evidence to carry its burden of persuasion. 

This means, of course, that you will have to present some evidence on your client’s behalf. It could mean he will have to testify to establish his ties to the community, or perhaps you could call family members to testify as to defendant’s ties, his work history, and his abundant good deeds. If the judge is sufficiently impressed at this point, don’t forget to request a bond that your client has reasonable expectations of making.

Terms and Conditions of Bail Bond

The Court’s have held that “in lieu of setting a higher bail . . . a trial court may choose to impose reasonable restrictions on a defendant’s behavior.” If you think getting the judge to grant a bond is doubtful, and since the judge can impose restrictive conditions to bond anyway, why not propose conditions on your own. In jurisdictions where it’s available, I like to propose a home confinement condition. The attorney should ensure that his client can afford this alternative. Presumably the client has a job and can afford the home monitoring.

If you’ve done everything you can reasonably do and the client still ends up with no bond or a bond cannot make, a speedy trial demand should be filed the instant the accusatory document is filed with the clerk.

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