Having No Bond in North Carolina


I Looked Up Charges and There Is “No Bond,” How Can I Get a Bond?

In North Carolina, a variety of new laws have created many situations where someone is given “no bond.” When someone is arrested for a crime, they are usually allowed to receive bond. Bond is an amount of money that, if paid, allows the accused person to leave custody at the jail to await trial. Most people pay a bail bondsman to get out of custody. A bail bondsman will pay the entire bond in exchange for a fee. If the fee is paid, either in full or installments, then the accused person can be bonded out of jail. Sometimes the bondsmen may ask them to check in, or in certain cases the court may place the individual on the electronic monitor.

However, many people in jail are given no bond. That means that they cannot be bonded out of jail. No amount of money can get them out of custody, and the jail will not accept any payment for release. They must be held until either 1) a bond is set for their charges or 2) their case is resolved by plea or by trial. This can take days, months, or even years in rare cases! Let’s look at common reasons why people at the jail have no bond and what you can do about it.

No Bond Under the Pretrial Integrity Act

One of the most common reasons a person will have no bond is that they are being held pursuant to the North Carolina Pretrial Integrity Act, which went into effect on October 1, 2023. Under this Act, only a judge can set a bond within the first 48 hours of arrest when:

  1. A person was out of custody on pretrial release for one charge and was charged with committing another new offense, regardless of the type of offense or;
  1. A person was arrested for a serious violent crime such as murder, rape, kidnapping, sex offenses, armed robbery, arson, burglary, discharging a firearm into occupied property, or assault with intent to kill inflicting serious injury.

This means that someone can be held for up to 48 hours for these reasons with no bond at all until they are brought before a District Court judge. Since judges only work during normal courtroom hours, which are 9:30am to 5:00pm weekdays, people who are arrested at night or over the weekend may have an extended wait to get a bond. But people arrested under the Act must be given a bond on their charges unless another condition in this article applies to them.

No Bond for Domestic Violence Charges

Another type of common hold for no bond is a domestic violence charge. Only a District Court judge can set a bond for any act of domestic violence, such as Assault on Female, Assault by Strangulation, Violation of a Domestic Violence Protective Order, Communicating Threats, Stalking, Cyberstalking, Harassing Phone Calls, Child Abuse, Assault on a Minor, or any other charge involving two people in the same household or in a romantic relationship. This creates the same situation described above, where someone can wait up to 48 hours to have any bond set in their case. Until the judge can see them, they will be held on domestic violence charges without bond. But unless another condition in this article applies to them, they will also be given a bond.

No Bond for Driving While Impaired Offenses

Where a driver is charged with Driving While Impaired, magistrates are allowed to hold that driver with no bond for a short period of time until they are no longer intoxicated. The magistrate will enter an order to hold the driver temporarily before they are cleared by medical personnel and given a bond. These holds are for the safety of the driver since the last thing anyone wants is for an impaired driver to leave custody in their current state and harm themselves or other people. These holds are usually just for a few hours and will be fixed quickly.

No Bond for Firearm Related Offenses

An increasingly common type of no bond condition is for firearm related offenses. Under N.C.G.S. § 15A-533(f), a person can be held with no bond if a judicial official finds there is reasonable cause to believe that the person committed a felony or Class A1 misdemeanor offense involving a firearm and either:

  1. The offense was committed while the person was on pretrial release for another felony or Class A1 misdemeanor offense involving the illegal use, possession, or discharge of a firearm or;
  1. The person has previously been convicted of a felony or Class A1 misdemeanor offense involving a firearm and not more than five years have elapsed since the date of conviction or the person's release for the offense, whichever is later.

This is a very broad statute where people are routinely held on no bond for charges including:

  • Possession of Firearm by Felon
  • Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon
  • Discharging Firearm into Occupied Property
  • Attempted First Degree Murder
  • Possession of Stolen Firearm
  • Assault with a Deadly Weapon
  • Assault by Pointing Gun

In basic terms, if a person was on release for a pending firearm related charge and was arrested for a new related firearm charge, or if a person has a firearm related conviction on their record from less than 5 years ago and was arrested for a new firearm related charge then the court can hold them indefinitely with no bond. That is because the law says that “there shall be a rebuttable presumption that no condition of release will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of the community” under these conditions.

People who receive no bond under this statute are often completely surprised by it. The firearm charge causing the no bond hold could be a pending charge from years ago that is still unresolved because of court delays. Or it could be a conviction for a misdemeanor or felony firearm offense from years back. But because of those things, any new firearm charge can cause a judicial official to set conditions of no bond.

The law says that the court must presume that no bond is the appropriate condition for people who fit this definition. If your loved one or relative is being held for no bond because of this hold, you should consult with one of our attorneys immediately. The only way to remove the condition of no bond is to have a bond hearing, where the lawyer must argue that the person being held in custody without bond will appear as required and that release does not pose an unreasonable risk of harm to the community. The lawyer must present enough evidence that the court is satisfied that they have rebutted the presumption.

While removing this no bond condition sounds simple, it is one of the toughest things to argue in court. This is for several reasons: judges have unlimited discretion, the standard of rebutting the presumption is vague, the DA has the upper hand in arguments made without time and preparation, a person may have numerous pending charges or a bad record, among other concerns. Most importantly, a person in jail is usually only entitled to ONE bond hearing by law. That means if a lawyer is unable to get the judge to agree to set a term of bond, that person could continue to sit with no bond until they can resolve their case. For a person facing a felony charge, that could mean 1 to 3 years in jail with no chance to get out! It is important you pick the right person to fight for a bond and the right time to do it.

There is no rhyme or reason to when this no bond condition is used by the courts. Judges have given bonds to clients charged with Armed Robbery, but then denied bond at all to someone charged with a misdemeanor for pointing a gun. Judges have given bonds to people charged with murder, but then denied bond at all to a felon charged with possession of a firearm. This bond hold can be very damaging to a person’s case. If you are aware of this no bond condition, then schedule a consultation with us so that we can discuss ways of removing this hold.

Other Kinds of No Bond Conditions

People can also be held with no bond in the following situations:

  • Capital Offenses (involving the Death Penalty)
  • Certain Drug Trafficking Offenses
  • Certain Gang Related Offenses
  • Certain Methamphetamine Manufacturing Offenses

People can be held temporarily with no bond when:

  • Charged with a felony and currently on probation for a prior offense to determine whether they are a danger to the public
  • Charged with communicating a threat of mass violence on educational property or communicating a threat of mass violence at a place of religious worship to determine whether they are a danger to the public
  • Charged with Rioting or Looting to determine if they are a danger to the public (effective 12/1/23)

These no bond conditions are rare and apply only to offenses that are severe. If one of these no bond conditions apply to a case, you’ll need an experienced attorney that can fight in the courtroom to secure a bond for that person against the perceptions of the DA and the court. People charged with these types of offenses need a skilled and careful advocate. Just like every other case, they will likely only get ONE opportunity to be heard in court about being released from jail on bond. Which is why who you choose to help them matters.

Is someone you know being held in jail without a bond right now? Do you want to hire an attorney to get them a bond hearing? Do you want a lawyer to fight for them to get a bond? Would you like to be able to bond them out of jail? If so, then call us at (704) 931-5535 and speak with one of our award-winning lawyers right now. We will FIGHT to get them home to you!