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If your friend, family member, or loved one has been arrested, your first concern (and certainly their first concern) is how to get them out of jail.

Depending on where they were arrested, they could be in a city jail or county jail. Once you have located your loved one, you will need to understand the bail-bond process in SC and how a Lexington, SC, criminal defense lawyer can help to bring them home. 

In this article, we will discuss:

  • How bond hearings work in SC,
  • The possible outcomes of a bond hearing,
  • The factors that the bond court will consider when determining whether to release the person and how much their bond amount will be, and
  • Bonding out after a DUI arrest.

How Bond Hearings Work in SC

When a person is arrested and charged with a crime in SC, they must be given a bond hearing within 24 hours of their arrest, and SC Code § 22-5-510 says that the person “must be released within a reasonable time, not to exceed four hours,” if they are charged with a “bailable offense.” 

Not every person will get a bond hearing within 24 hours, though, because magistrates are not permitted to set bonds for some of SC’s more serious offenses. Any person who is charged with an offense that is punishable by life in prison (except for burglary first degree) or death must have a circuit court judge set their bond. 

In these cases, the defendant’s attorney will need to file a motion to set bond and request that a hearing be scheduled in General Sessions Court, which could take weeks or even months in some cases.

What are the Possible Outcomes/Types of Bail-Bonds in SC

The bond court is authorized to order various types of bonds, depending on the circumstances of the case, including:

  • Personal recognizance (PR) bonds – once the bond order is processed, the defendant is released “on their own recognizance” without paying money to the court,
  • Cash bonds – the defendant must pay the full amount of the bond and it will be returned at the end of their case,
  • 10% bond – the defendant can pay 10% of the total bond amount to the court and it will be returned at the end of their case, or
  • Surety bond – the defendant must retain a bondsman (and pay their fee) before they can be released.

In rare cases, where the bond court determines that a defendant is a flight risk or danger to the community, the bond court may deny a person’s bond altogether, forcing them to remain in jail until their case is resolved or until their attorney can get a later court to set a reasonable bond for their release.

Bonding Out After a DUI Arrest

If the person is charged with DUI first offense, their bond amount cannot be greater than the maximum fine they would have to pay if they were convicted of the offense – bond cannot be denied for most DUI-related charges in SC. 

Under SC Code § 22-5-530, the bond amount cannot be greater than the maximum fine for any misdemeanor offense that will be tried in the magistrate or municipal court. 

If the person is charged with DUI second offense or greater or felony DUI, they are subject to the ordinary rules for bond courts – the bond court could set a PR bond, a cash bond, a 10% bond, or a surety bond in any amount that the court deems appropriate after considering the “nature and circumstances of the offense charged.”

How Bond Hearings Work: The Factors the Court Will Consider

  • 22-5-510 contains a list of factors that the court must consider when “determining conditions of release that will reasonably assure appearance, or if release would constitute an unreasonable danger to the community or an individual.”

The bond court should consider the “nature and circumstances of the offense charged and the charged person’s:”

  • Family ties,
  • Employment,
  • Financial resources,
  • Character and mental condition,
  • Length of residence in the community,
  • Criminal history, and
  • Whether the person has ever evaded law enforcement or failed to appear in court.

The bond court must also consider:

  • Any pending charges against the person even if they have not been convicted,
  • The incident reports from the current charges, and
  • “Any other information that will assist the court in determining conditions of release.”

Is There a Constitutional Right to a PR Bond in SC? 

There is no constitutional right to a personal recognizance (PR) bond in SC, but Article I, § 15 of the SC Constitution does place limits on bonds in SC:

  1. All persons have the right to bail, except
  2. Persons charged with capital offenses, life imprisonment, or violent offenses (defined in SC Code § 16-1-60), and
  3. “Excessive bail shall not be required.”

The SC Constitution does say there is a right to bail with exceptions – it is unconstitutional to deny bond unless the person is charged with a violent offense, capital offense, or offense punishable by life in prison. 

Personal recognizance bonds are the default under SC law, though. 

SC Code § 17-15-10 instructs magistrates to give a PR bond to any person who is charged with a noncapital offense unless 1) a PR bond would not “reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required” or 2) an “unreasonable danger to the community or an individual” would result. 

If the bond court finds there is a flight risk or danger to the community, the court can then require an appearance bond (cash bond, 10% bond, or surety bond) and impose additional restrictions including:

  • Designating a person or organization to supervise the person (releasing them into the other person’s “custody”),
  • Restricting the person’s travel, people they associate with, or where they live,
  • Imposing a curfew on the person, or
  • “Any other conditions deemed reasonably necessary to assure appearance as required.”

If bond is denied, or if the person is unable to afford their bond, their attorney may be able to get their bond reduced or have the court reconsider the bond amount when there is a change in circumstances, substantial time has passed, or the bond amount is excessive. 

In cases where bond was denied in violation of the SC Constitution, your criminal defense attorney can 1) move the court to reconsider or 2) file a writ of habeas corpus in the circuit court to seek the person’s release.

Questions About How Bond Hearings Work? 

Lexington, SC, bail-bond lawyer Kent Collins is available to help family members locate a loved one who has been arrested, appear at their bond hearing, seek reconsiderations of bond orders when appropriate, and help you to get your family member, friend, or loved one back home. 

Once the matter of bond has been resolved, we will investigate your charges, answer your questions, and begin investigating your case right away. We will get your criminal charges dismissed, find a resolution that you can agree to, or try your case to a jury. 

Get in touch with Kent by phone at 803-808-0905 or use this form to reach him online to schedule your in-person consultation.

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