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.
Citation in Lieu of Arrest
Issuing a citation is not presumptive, however a citation can be issued for misdemeanors except for misdemeanors requiring a bail hearing. Citations can be issued after arrest by peace officers. (§ 171.1771; § 171.177)
Pretrial Release Eligibility
State constitution and statute provide a presumption of pretrial release. Pretrial release can be denied for capital offenses, murder punishable by life without parole, and first degree murder. (Const. art, 1, § 7; § 178.484)
Pretrial Release Conditions
Law allows release on personal recognizance. Common conditions of release include: commercial surety, cash deposit, other secured bond and additional requirements. A $3,000 to $15,000 secured bond as enumerated in § 178.484(7) and § 178.484(9) is required for domestic violence offenses and for a violation of a protection order. (§ 178.484; § 178.504; § 178.502; § 178.4851)
Bail Bond Agent Licensure
The Division of Insurance regulates bail agents and bail solicitors. To be licensed, applicants must meet age, residency and prelicense education requirements, and pass an exam. They cannot be employed as jailers, police officers, justices of the peace, municipal judges, sheriffs, deputy sheriffs or constables, persons with arrest power or certain prison officials. For bail agents, crimes for which a license can be denied or revoked include forgery, embezzlement, obtaining money under false pretenses, larceny, extortion, conspiracy to defraud, and crimes involving moral turpitude. For bail solicitors, these crimes include all felonies, offenses involving moral turpitude, and the unlawful use, sale or possession of a controlled substance. (§ 697.150; § 697.170; § 697.260)
Bail Bond Agent Business Practices
The premium rate a bail agent can charge is the greater of $50 or 15 percent of the bond. They are prohibited from soliciting business any place prisoners are confined or in any court. They cannot offer legal advice, recommend an attorney or make arrangements with public officials. A bail agent, bail enforcement agent or bail solicitor cannot advertise as a surety insurance company. (§ 697.300; § 697.340)
Bail Forfeiture Procedure
After notification of their client’s failure to appear, a bail agent has 180 days to produce the defendant or provide an adequate reason why the defendant did not appear. Courts are instructed to consider absences due to death, illness, insanity, detention elsewhere, or deportation. Statute addresses standards for remission procedure. (§ 178.508; § 178.509; § 178.516)
Recovery agents have similar licensing requirements as bail agents. Associations with bail agents must be disclosed. (§ 697.173; § 697.260)
Victims’ Rights and Protections
Victims have the right to notification of pretrial release and the conditions of release. Pretrial release hearings are required for domestic violence battery or a violation of a domestic violence protection order that involved threat of harm; or the defendant has previously violated a protection order; or has a concentration of alcohol of .08 or more, or is under the influence of a prohibited substance. Defendants charged with these offenses can be detained for at least 12 hours after arrest. If a bail bond is forfeited, the funds can be applied to a fund for compensation of victims of crime upon the defendant’s conviction. (§ 178.5698; § 178.484 (7) & (8); § 178.484 (7) & (8); § 178.518)
Veterans/active military diversion programs are authorized. (§ 176A.280)
Full text of statutes can be retrieved using NCSL’s State Legislatures Internet Links database or learn more about NCSL’s Criminal Justice Program.