Being arrested and subsequently charged with a crime is a life-changing – and often traumatic – experience. If it is your first time getting arrested in South Carolina, the entire process can be overwhelming. An experienced criminal defense attorney will ensure that you understand what is going to or could happen in your case, and they will fight to make sure your rights are respected.
Part of the arrest process includes finding out if you will be getting released on bail or not. The bail process can be confusing and complex, so we will try to simplify it as much as possible for you.
What is bail?
According to the American Bar Association, bail is “the amount of money defendants must post to be released from custody until their trial.” Bail is neither a punishment nor a fine. Its purpose is to guarantee defendants will appear for all of their pretrial hearings and for their trial. Once the trial is over, bail is returned to the defendant.
How much will my bail be?
There are multiple factors a judge or magistrate uses to determine an amount for bail. These include:
- The type of the alleged crime
- How “dangerous” the judge considers the defendant
- The risk of the defendant fleeing
- The community’s safety
Additionally, bail sometimes comes with conditions based on the defendant’s behavior (like no contact with the alleged victim), house arrest, or electronic monitoring.
Types of Bail
In South Carolina, there are three main types of bail.
- Personal Recognizance: If the judge believes the defendant will not flee, they may release the defendant on their own recognizance – without bail. They must sign a written promise to attend all hearings and trials. This is generally done for non-violent offenses, first-time offenders, and if the defendant has roots in the community, a steady job, and personal circumstances that indicate they won’t flee.
- Cash Bail: The defendant pays the full amount of the bail with cash or a cashier’s check. Cash bail can be set quite high, and is generally required for offenses that are more serious in nature. After the defendant appears in court as ordered, the bail will be returned once the trial concludes.
- Surety Bail: A bail bondsman pays the full bail on behalf of the defendant in exchange for a fee, typically 10% of the total amount of the bail. The bondsman may also require some type of collateral to secure the bond.
What if I can’t afford the bail that is set?
If you or your family can’t afford to post bail, you can work with a bail bondsman, who will post surety bail on your behalf. If you choose this option and fail to appear for your hearings and trials, the bondsman will be required to pay the full amount of bail to the court.
What if bail is denied?
If the judge believes the defendant is a danger to the community or a flight risk, bail may be denied, and the defendant will remain in custody until after their trial concludes. However, the defendant has the right to request a bond reconsideration hearing during which they can present evidence to support their release on bail.
If the defendant is then released on bail, they continue to be subject to release conditions, and any violation of those conditions can cause bail to be revoked and the defendant to be returned to custody.
Let SeiferFlatow work for you
If you have been charged with a crime in South Carolina, you need an attorney to help you through the entire process, from arrest to trial. At SeiferFlatow, we believe that an appropriate defense is necessary in order to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Call us immediately if you have been charged with a crime: 803-639-8719.