Posting Bail in North Carolina

gavel and cuffs

Many cases in North Carolina begin when you’re charged with a crime and are then arrested; but once you’ve been arrested, what happens next?

The Initial Bond Setting.

In most cases, the arresting officer takes you in front of a magistrate who will then confirm that the charges being brought against you do not require them to place you under any kind of judicial or administrative hold. Once it’s decided that the magistrate can set a bond for you, they will look at several different factors to decide what your bond should be. These factors include:

  • The severity of the charge
  • The facts surrounding your case
  • Your prior criminal record
  • Whether or not you have missed court in the past
  • Whether or not you are a flight risk,
  • And more...

Once the magistrate examines all of the details from your charge, they will determine what kind of bond to set for your case. The magistrate has three different types of bond for every case.

  1. Written Promise to Appear – occurs when the magistrate or judicial official setting the bond decides that no monetary bond is needed in order to ensure that you show back up for court. Instead, you are asked to sign a written statement in which you promise to attend your assigned court date.
  2. Unsecured Bond – is issued when the magistrate sets a monetary value that you must comply with ONLY if you miss court and fail to appear for your assigned court date.
  3. Secured Bond – where the magistrate or judicial official sets a monetary value that you must comply with in order to get out of jail. This amount is then held by the justice system until your matter is closed.

It is important to know that if your charges require the magistrate to place you under a hold, they will not set a bond and your case will instead be addressed by a judicial official at your first appearance. This first appearance must be held within 48 hours or at the next available setting of the district court. This means that if you’re arrested on Friday night for a charge that requires a mandatory hold, you will not be seen by a judge or have your bond set until Monday morning.

Paying the Bond.

If the magistrate or judicial official sets a secured bond, you will have to pay the bond in order to secure your release. If the bond is too high for you to be able to afford to pay, you may hire a bondsman to help you finance the bond. In the state of North Carolina, a bondsman will usually charge you between 10-15% of the overall bond amount to secure your release. You should know that if you choose to utilize the services of a bondsman, you generally will NOT get the money you paid them to secure your release back, regardless of the disposition of your case. If you choose to pay the bond yourself and you do not use a bondsman, then you will have your secured bond returned to you once your case is finished. Some counties will even allow you to use the money you paid for bond, to cover whatever court costs and fines you may receive and refund you the difference, if any.

What if the Bond set is too high even if you try to use a bondsman?

At your initial court appearance, you have the opportunity to be heard in regards to several items; the right to counsel, and typically, your bond. It is vital that you speak to an attorney about this process because, once the amount of bond you face is put at issue, the judge may choose to lower it, leave it where it is, or even raise the bond. An experienced attorney will know, not only what points to make in front of the judge to get your bond lowered, but also which judge is best to appear in front of for a modification of your bond.

What happens when you miss court?

If you have paid a secured bond or you are placed under an unsecured bond and you miss court, the court will generally issue an order for your arrest and a notice of bond forfeiture. The notice of bond forfeiture is then mailed to you and to anyone else who appears on your bond, such as a bondsman, and sets forth a prescribed amount of time to fix the situation prior to the bond being declared a judgment against you. There are several ways to fix a bond forfeiture: first, you can turn yourself in or be re-arrested prior to the date of final judgment; second, you may hire an attorney who can strike the order for your arrest and the accompanying bond forfeiture; finally, noted on the notice of forfeiture are several different statutory conditions that, if met, would allow for the recall of the forfeiture.

What happens to the money once a forfeiture is final?

In North Carolina once a bond forfeiture becomes a final judgment against you, the money that was used to secure your release is given to the local school board.

It is in your best interest to contact an attorney if you have been arrested for a crime and a bond has been set in your case. Call our office to schedule a consultation if you have questions or would like to speak with a Criminal Defense attorney about this type of matter.