Pre Trial Release Conditions

Jennifer Smith at the UNC School of Government’s criminal law blog has a useful post explaining the various exceptions to the general rule that people arrested ought to have conditions set upon which they can be released from custody. Those conditions may be as lenient as a “written promise to appear” or as part of a “pre-trial release” program, or may be unsecured bonds, secured bonds, or released into the custody of another (such as a parent or guardian). More here.

Among the various categories of people who are excepted from having conditions set are: drug traffickers, certain fugitives, people accused of certain methamphetamine offenses, probation violators, parole and post-supervision release violators, and people accused of capital offenses.

There are additional categories of defendants who may be denied pre-trial release, if only for a short time, including Domestic Violence defendants, who can be held for up to 48 hours or until they see a District Court judge, and DWI arrestees who may be held without bond until they either sober up or are able to be released into the custody of a sober person.

In addition, while the pre-trial release statutes are clear that the default position is a “written promise to appear,” in a very significant number of cases, bond is set no matter what the default position.

NPR aired a three part report on the Bail Bonding business a while back in other jurisdictions that noted the unhealthy connections between bail bondsmen who support candidates for judge who establish bonding conditions that then enrich the bail bondsman while, at the same time, keep thousands of people in jail who cannot afford to bond out under any condition or amount.

I’m unaware of any problems with connections between bail bondsmen and pre-trial release conditions in North Carolina, but it is always a concern where you have a semi-private system (bail bonding) in a public framework (the judicial system.)

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.