Bonds / Preliminary Hearings

Charleston /Berkeley/Dorchester Criminal Defense Attorney:
BONDS/PRELIMINARY HEARINGS

BOND SETTINGS

A bond will normally be set by a local Municipal or Magistrate Judge within twenty-four (24) hours after an individual has been arrested and served with an arrest warrant. The Magistrate possesses the discretionary authority to set or deny bond on nearly all charges, with the exception of offenses which carry the punishment of death or life imprisonment and must be set by a Circuit Court Judge in General Sessions Court.

There are two (2) main factors that Peter Brown, an experienced criminal defense attorney and his veteran staff know the Court considers when setting a bond:

  1. Whether the individual is a risk of flight; and
  2. Whether the individual is a danger to the community.

With thirty (30) years of experience, attorney Peter David Brown is available to assist you immediately in an attempt to obtain a reasonable bond at that initial bond setting. We will promptly investigate the facts and circumstances as they are known and make a presentation to the Magistrate designed to obtain the most reasonable bond possible under the circumstances. Call us at (843) 971-0099 to immediately start preparing for this hearing.

There are several types of bonds:

PERSONAL RECOGNIZANCE

A Personal Recognizance (PR) bond allows for the release of a defendant before a trial without posting any actual money. It is a bond in which the defendant acknowledges to the court that he is indebted to the State in a particular amount to be paid if he does not appear for court when required.

CASH BOND

A Cash Bond means a defendant (his family) posts a sum of cash when the bond is set. These types of bonds are normally for municipal and magistrate level offenses unless specifically requested by an experienced defense attorney.

SURETY BOND

A Surety Bond is a monetary amount posted by a surety (bondsperson) which allows for the accused’s release while awaiting a trial or plea. The surety acknowledges to the court/state, that they will be responsible for paying the full amount of the bond if the accused fails to appear for court as required by the terms and conditions.

TEN PERCENT (10%) BOND

This bond is similar to the Surety Bond, except that a friend or family member, rather than a bondsperson may post the amount required with the Clerk of Court. Once the case is closed, the amount used to satisfy the ten percent (10%) will be returned to the friend or family member who posted the bond with the Clerk of Court. This is the second most-desirable bond, since the client and his family do not lose the ten (10%) percent to a bondsman – but will get it returned to them.

CONSENT BOND

Often times, the long wait for a Bond Reconsideration Hearing can be eliminated if the Solicitor and the defense attorney can agree upon the amount and the terms and conditions of release. A Consent Bond is normally the product of very specific negotiations between the attorney for the State and the criminal defense attorney. Once retained, we can inquire with the prosecution whether this type of bond is an option or if a full Bond Reconsideration Hearing will be required to have the defendant released.

BOND RECONSIDERATION HEARINGS

If the accused cannot meet the financial requirements of the initial bond set by the Magistrate, he may file a motion to have the court reconsider the terms. Our Charleston Criminal Defense law firm normally files this motion at the same time we request the Preliminary Hearing which challenges the facts surrounding the arrest. The Magistrate who presides over Preliminary Hearing Court is normally a different Judge than the one who set the initial bond immediately following the arrest. The hearing to request a modification of bond is scheduled and held in conjunction with the Preliminary Hearing for the purpose of judicial efficiency.

Often the positive facts that we bring out at the Preliminary Hearing allow the Magistrate to reduce the amount of the bond. The same two factors used in setting the bond are reviewed at the Bond Reconsideration Hearing: 1) risk of flight and 2) danger to the community, in conjunction with any changes in facts or circumstances surrounding the alleged crime that might have been discovered during the Preliminary Hearing. We routinely handle Bond Reduction Hearings and Preliminary Hearings. Peter David Brown has handled over one thousand (1,000+) Preliminary Hearings and Bond Reduction Hearings during his thirty (30) years of practicing law. This is an opportunity to present employers, family members and references to the Court in order to obtain a reasonable bond and get the defendant released the from jail.

GENERAL SESSIONS BOND HEARINGS AND RECONSIDERATION HEARINGS:

If a defendant is unable to meet the terms and conditions of his bond as set by the two magistrates, he must then petition the Court for a General Sessions Bond Reconsideration Hearing. There must be a legitimate change of circumstances that would reasonably call for the defendant’s bond to be reconsidered a second time. These hearings are more formal and are held before a Circuit Court Judge. Our Charleston criminal defense team may present employers, family members and references to the Court in an attempt to have the bond reduced to allow the defendant to be released and returned to his family and work.

PRELIMINARY HEARING (PROBABLE CAUSE HEARING)

A defendant has a statutory right to a Preliminary Hearing. This hearing must be requested within a certain period of time or it is forfeited. We routinely request and represent defendants at Preliminary Hearings. Peter Brown has handled well over a thousand Preliminary Hearings during his thirty (30) years of practicing law.

The Charleston criminal defense team at The Law Office of Peter David Brown, P.A. suggests that the defendant hire an attorney to represent his interests at this very important hearing. The prosecution is not required to produce all of their evidence, but only enough to establish the probable cause of the alleged criminal act. This hearing is the first opportunity for our office to require the arresting officer to testify under oath in regard to the actual facts and sequence of the events surrounding the alleged criminal conduct. We then have the opportunity to cross examine the police officer in regard to his testimony, any inconsistencies, and any relevant facts which the officer failed to address during his direct testimony for the State.

The State must provide the elements of the offense to the court in order to have the charge bound over. We consider this hearing an invaluable discovery tool in that it forces the State to reveal the basis of the criminal charges on the official record. Often times, the prosecutor will realize by the end of the Preliminary Hearing that the State’s case is not as strong as it appeared in the warrant and police report. This is obviously important, in that it can lead to a reduction in charges or a dismissal. There are occasions that the original charge is reduced, remanded or dismissed at the Preliminary Hearing, although this is not a very frequent occurrence. The standard of proof necessary to bind the charge over is merely “probable cause” as opposed to the standard requiring proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” that is required to convict the accused at a trial.
Fortunately and fortuitously the Preliminary Hearing also offers the experienced defense attorney a chance to speak informally with the arresting officer and the prosecutor about the ultimate outcome of the matter after these weaknesses in the State’s case have been exposed through cross examination and placed on the record. We rarely waive the Preliminary Hearing, except in extraordinary circumstances that must be favorable to the accused, such as negotiating a bond that is favorable to the defendant.

Please contact our experienced Charleston criminal defense law firm immediately to retain our services and have us begin investigating the facts and circumstances surrounding an arrest. The preparation before the Preliminary Hearing allows us to understand the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident. Armed with this knowledge, we can often begin to establish a defense to the allegations as early as the Preliminary Hearing. Contact us at (843) 971-0099.