Standards for Setting Bail
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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