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.
Pretrial Release Eligibility
State constitution provides a presumption of pretrial release. Pretrial release can be denied for capital offenses. (Const. art. 2 § 8; § 16-84-110)
Pretrial Release Conditions
Common conditions of release include: commercial surety, cash deposit, other secured bond, supervision and additional requirements. (§ 9-15-217; § 16-17-127; § 16-93-1202)
Bail Bond Agent Licensure
The Professional Bail Bond Company and Professional Bail Bondsman Licensing Board regulate professional bondsmen. To be licensed, applicants must meet residency, prelicense education and continuing education requirements, and pass an exam and a criminal background check. Bail bond agents must also be licensed; applicants must meet residency requirements and pass a criminal background check. Applicants for either license cannot be employed as attorneys, court officials, sheriffs, or law enforcement officials. Crimes that can cause a professional bail bondsmen license to be denied or revoked include all felonies and crimes of moral turpitude. (§ 17-19-201; § 17-19-110)
Bail Bond Agent Business Practices
The premium rate a bail agent can charge is the greater of $50 or 10 percent of the bond. They are prohibited from soliciting business any place prisoners are confined, in police stations, in jails and sheriff’s offices, and in any court. Bail agents cannot offer legal advice, recommend an attorney, or make arrangements with public officials. In advertisements, bail bond companies must clearly identify the company name, and for an individual bondsmen, their company affiliation must be clearly identified. (§ 17-19-301; § 17-19-105; § 17-19-109)
Bail Forfeiture Procedure
After notification of their client’s failure to appear, a bail agent has 120 days to produce the defendant or provide an adequate reason why the defendant did not appear. Courts are instructed to consider absences due to physical or mental disability or if the defendant is being forcefully detained. Unpaid forfeitures can result in suspension of the agent’s authority to execute new bonds. (§ 16-84-201; § 16-84-203)
Victims’ Rights and Protections
Victims have the right to notification of the pretrial release hearing. Pretrial release hearings are required for domestic violence offenses. Electronic monitoring that includes technology to notify the victim if the defendant is close can be ordered for a violation of a protection order. (§ 16-21-106(a); § 16-81-113(a); § 9-15-217)
Diversion programs authorized include: substance abuse and mental health programs; and substance abuse problem-solving courts. Judicial districts are also authorized to establish diversion programs. (§ 16-98-201; § 16-98-301 et seq.; § 5-4-901 et. seq.)
Full text of statutes can be retrieved using NCSL’s State Legislatures Internet Links database or learn more about NCSL’s Criminal Justice Program.