Bail bonds are the primary pretrial jail release devices in Cobb County. Essentially, buying a bail bond is like buying an insurance policy.
If Ted does not have fire insurance and his house burns down, he must pay to rebuild it. However, if Ted has a valid fire insurance policy, the insurance company bears the financial risk.
Similarly, if Ted pays cash to get out of jail (more on that below) and he does not meet all bail conditions (more on that below as well), he forfeits his cash deposit. If Ted has a bail bond and he doesn’t fulfil all conditions, the bonding company bears the financial risk.
A Marietta criminal defense attorney is an important part of the bail bond process. In some cases, an attorney doubles as a bail bond agent. Furthermore, attorneys represent defendants at bail reduction and bail revocation hearings.
Why Jail Release is Important
Obviously, people who are in jail have no freedom and cannot spend time with their friends and family on their own terms. But there are some other, less obvious reasons prompt jail release is essential.
During normal times, incarcerated defendants cannot significantly contribute to their own defenses. COVID-19 has increased these restrictions. Usually, Marietta criminal defense lawyers have almost no access to their clients. Jailers typically only allow email exchanges or telephone conferences. Even if officials do not “accidentally” eavesdrop on such communications, these meetings are a poor substitute for face-to-face consultations.
There are health reasons as well. Jail changes people and clouds their senses. Most people know someone who went to jail and came back as either a better person or a worse person. In either case, these personality changes are normally permanent. As for diminished mental capacity, John the Baptist is a good example. The more time he spent behind bars, the more doubts he had about his faith.
Getting Out of Jail
The rising number of unsentenced inmates has prompted some changes in the jail release system. An alarming number of defendants are behind bars simply because they cannot afford to get out of jail. Therefore, in most areas, first-time offenders who are charges with non-violent crimes are often eligible for Personal Recognizance release. If they pay a small fee and agree to some basic conditions, authorities release them on their own recognizance. Some common conditions include:
- Remaining within the county,
- Reporting to a supervision officer,
- Staying out of trouble with the law,
- Working and/or attending school full time, and
- Appearing at all required court dates.
Some Cobb County judges require defendants to appear at all scheduled hearings. Others only require defendants to be present at contested hearings.
All jail release options normally also include offense-specific conditions. For example, most judges require Ignition Interlock Devices as a condition of DUI bond.
PR procedure and eligibility varies in different jurisdictions. Usually, a review board examines the case and determines if such release is appropriate. These panels often only meet sporadically. As for eligibility, most inmates are automatically ineligible for PR release, as outlined above.
Cash bond could be an option as well. Usually, the sheriff sets presumptive bail amounts that are based on the severity of the charged offense and the defendant’s criminal background. So, in many cases, initial bail amounts are quite high. At a subsequent bail reduction hearing, a Marietta criminal defense attorney may be able to reduce the cash bail amount, based on factors like the defendant’s:
- Ability to pay,
- Contacts with the community,
- Ability to travel, and
- Threat to the community.
A few words about forfeiture proceedings and cash bail. The state has broad power to seize property, including bank accounts, which are allegedly connected to criminal activity, even if the connection is tenuous. For example, if officers find cash during a drug raid, they might have the authority to seize the defendant’s bank accounts, on the theory that the account is connected to the proceeds of a crime.
The Supreme Court has ruled that such forfeiture proceedings cannot overly restrict the defendant’s ability to pay cash bail or hire the Marietta criminal defense attorney of his/her choice.
Speaking of federal law, the Eighth Amendment guarantees “reasonable” bail in all criminal cases. But the R-word is quite subjective. As a result, even if a bond reduction hearing is successful, the amount might be unaffordable.
A bail bond is between PR and cash bond release. Usually, if defendants pay about a 15 percent premium, an authorized company gives a bail bond to the sheriff. These companies have some flexibility in terms of conditions.
Common Bail Bond Issues
We mentioned bail reduction issues above. Normally, the two sides settle these matters out of court. Frequently, prosecutors agree to reduce the amount to a figure the defendant can easily afford if the defendant agrees to additional conditions, such as house arrest or electronic monitoring.
Bail revocation hearings are quite common as well. Prosecutors often try to use technical issues to revoke bail or at least force the judge to reconsider the conditions. Normally, a technical issue is any violation other than failure to appear at a required court hearing.
Frequently, attorneys can either convince judges to give defendants more time to comply with something like an IID or electronic monitoring requirement. If the issue is a failure to report or remain within the county, attorneys may be able to modify the condition. These modifications are easier if a Marietta criminal defense attorney gets ahead of the problem and modifies the condition before the defendant violates it.
Failure to appear is more difficult to resolve. Many judges take these violations personally. If the judge revokes the bail bond, which s/he has the power to do, an attorney can usually arrange for a voluntary surrender and a substitute bond.
Getting out of jail before trial, and staying out of jail, is often critical in a criminal case. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal law attorney in Marietta, contact The Phillips Law Firm, LLC. We routinely handle matters in Cobb County and nearby jurisdictions.