Pretrial Release | Georgia

3/13/2013

State legislatures consider and enact laws that address all aspects of pretrial policy, including citations, release eligibility, conditions of release, commercial bail bonding, victims’ rights and diversion. These legislative policies have an important role in providing fair, efficient and safe practices carried out by law enforcement and the courts.

Below is a synopsis of this state’s pretrial release laws as of March 2013 and any relevant legislative reports or audits. Recent enactments modifying these provisions can be found in NCSL’s pretrial enactments database.

Laws

Pretrial Release Eligibility

State statute provides a presumption of pretrial release. Pretrial release can be denied for a serious violent felony if the defendant has a previous conviction for a serious violent felony, and a family violence crime involving serious injury. (§ 17-6-1(e); § 17-6-13)

Pretrial Release Conditions

Law allows release on personal recognizance. Common conditions of release include: commercial surety, cash deposit, other secured bond, supervision and additional requirements. Electronic monitoring is authorized for any defendant eligible for pretrial release. (§ 17-6-1; § 17-6-1.1; § 17-6-15)

Bail Bond Agent Licensure

Licenses for professional bondsmen are regulated by the sheriff of the county in which the bondsman conduct business. To be licensed, applicants must meet age, residency and continuing education requirements, and pass a criminal background check. Crimes for which a license can be denied or revoked include all felonies and crimes involving moral turpitude. (§ 17-6-50)

Bail Bond Agent Business Practices

The premium rate a bail agent can charge is no more than 12 percent on bonds below $10,000 and 15 percent on bonds above $10,000. They are prohibited from soliciting business any place prisoners are confined or in any court. Bail agents cannot offer legal advice, recommend an attorney or make arrangements with public officials. (§ 17-6-30; § 17-6-53; § 17-6-50; § 17-6-51; § 17-6-52)

Bail Forfeiture Procedure

After notification of their client’s failure to appear, a bail agent has 72 hours to produce the defendant or provide an adequate reason why the defendant did not appear. Courts are instructed to consider absences because of  mental or physical disability, detention elsewhere, or deportation. Statute addresses the standards for remission process. (§ 17-6-70; § 17-6-72)

Recovery Agents

Recovery agents have similar licensing requirements as bail agents. Associations with bail agents must be disclosed, and recovery agents are required to wear identifying clothing and follow set guidelines when making arrests on private property. (§ 17-6-56; § 17-6-57; § 17-6-58)

Victims’ Rights and Protections

Victims have the right to notification of the pretrial release hearing and notification of pretrial release. Pretrial release hearings are required for: treason; murder; rape; aggravated sodomy; armed robbery; aircraft or motor vehicle hijacking; aggravated child molestation; aggravated sexual battery; kidnapping, arson, aggravated assault or burglary if the defendant has a prior similar conviction or while on pretrial release for a similar offense or other offenses enumerated in § 17-6-2(a)(11); aggravated stalking; family violence offense; and homicide by vehicle. (§ 17-17-5 & § 17-17-7; § 17-6-1)

Pretrial Diversion

Mental health problem-solving courts et. seq. are authorized diversion programs. The prosecuting attorney for the judicial court is authorized to establish diversion programs. Diversion is also authorized f or offenses enumerated in § 42-8-80. (§ 42-8-80 et. seq.; § 15-18-80 et. seq.; § 15-1-16)

Resources

Full text of statutes can be retrieved using NCSL’s State Legislatures Internet Links database or learn more about NCSL’s Criminal Justice Program.