Bond Hearings - Bond, Bond Hearings and Bond Reductions


If a person is arrested on an arrest warrant, the bond is usually already set and the first appearance judge usually will not change it.  If a person is arrested based on probable cause, the judge will set a bond at first appearance.  After first appearance, a person can file a motion for bond reduction and have it heard before the judge that will ultimately handle the case. 

Bond Hearings - In Theory

Everybody is entitled to pretrial release on reasonable conditions unless no conditions of release can reasonably protect the community from the risk of physical harm to persons, assure the presence of the accused at trial, or assure the integrity of the judicial process.

Further, where proof is evident and the presumption is great, and the person is charged with a capital felony or offense punishable by life, the person is not entitled to a bond. 

Factors for the judge to consider:

  1. Nature and circumstances of the offense and penalty,
  2. Weight of the evidence against you,
  3. Family ties,
  4. Length of residence in the community,
  5. Employment history,
  6. Financial resources,
  7. Mental condition,
  8. Past and present conduct,
  9. Nature and probability of danger that your release poses to the community,
  10. Source of funds used to post bail,
  11. whether you are already on release pending another criminal matter or are on probation, parole or other release,
  12. any other relevant factor. 

Bond Hearings - In Practice

We all know that there are ways that things are supposed to work and ways that things actually work.  In practice, bond hearings, especially at first appearance, are very quick boilerplate proceedings where the judge usually already has a pretty good idea of how much the bond will be within a range for a specific criminal offense.  It is important for your attorney to take you and your case off the conveyor belt and articulate to the judge how you or your situation is different than others similarly situated. 

My bond has been set.  Can I file a motion to reduce my bond?

A bond may be modified by a judge of superior jurisdiction, the initial judge that set the bail, the Chief Judge, the judge assigned to preside over the trial, or the first appearance judge who is authorized by the judge initially setting the bail.  Typically, only the judge that ultimately presides over your case will modify the bond pursuant to a Motion to Reduce the bond. 

When can I have my bond hearing?

After first appearance, you can file a motion to reduce bond with your trial judge.  The hearing must be "prompt."  The Defense must give the prosecution at least 3 hours notice before the bond reduction motion is heard.  As a practical matter, it could be days or even longer before the court has time on its calendar to hear the bond motion. 

What happens if I violate the conditions of my bond?

The Court can revoke your bond in the court's discretion for "good cause."  The Court can have you arrested for violation of a condition of bond, an issue with the surety, or if the Court is satisfied that the bail should be increased. Find out more about Bond revocation here. 
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