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. Citations can be issued by law enforcement officers or any other authorized person. (§ 15A-302)
Pretrial Release Eligibility
Pretrial release can be denied for capital offenses, drug trafficking or offenses associated with a criminal street gang while the defendant is on pretrial release for another offense and has a prior similar conviction in the last five years, and manufacture of methamphetamine committed to maintain dependence on or illegal use of the drug. (Const. art. 1 § 27; § 15A-533, § 15A-534.6)
Guidance for Setting Release Conditions
Law requires courts to impose conditions as enumerated in §15A-534(a) & (b). (§ 15A-534)
Pretrial Release Conditions
Law allows release on personal recognizance or an unsecured appearance bond. Common conditions of release include: commercial surety, cash deposit, property bond, other secured bond, supervision and additional requirements. Electronic monitoring is authorized for any defendant eligible for pretrial release. A minimum $500 bond is required for failure to appear while on pretrial release. (§ 15A-531; § 15A-534)
Bail Bond Agent Licensure
The Commissioner of the Department of Insurance regulates professional bondsmen and surety bondsmen. To be licensed, applicants must meet age, residency, prelicense education and continuing education requirements, and pass an exam. Applicants seeking to become professional bondsmen must also pass a criminal background check. People employed as sheriffs or deputy sheriffs, law enforcement or judicial officials, attorneys, parole or probation officers, jailers or assistant jailers, employees of the General Court of Justice, employees or spouse of employees with criminal justice duties, or those with commercial bond interests are not eligible for either license. Certain current or prior violations are cause for a license to be denied or revoked. (§ 58-71-40)
Bail Bond Agent Business Practices
The premium rate a bail agent can charge is no more than percent of the bond. They are prohibited from soliciting business in any place prisoners are confined, any court, or the office of any magistrate. Bail agents cannot offer legal advice or make arrangements with public officials. (§ 58-71-95 15)
Bail Forfeiture Procedure
After notification of their client’s failure to appear, a bail agent has 150 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 or detention elsewhere. Statute addresses standards for remission procedure. (§ 15A-544.6; § 15A-544.5; § 15A-544.8)
Recovery agents have similar licensing requirements as bail agents. Associations with bail agents must be disclosed. (§ 58-71-40; § 58-71-125; § 58-71-65)
Victims’ Rights and Protections
Pretrial release hearings are required for assaulting, stalking, threatening, or committing a felony upon a spouse, former spouse or person whom the defendant has lived with as if a spouse; domestic criminal trespass; and for violation of a domestic violence protection order. (§ 15A-534.1)
Substance abuse problem-solving courts are authorized diversion programs. Diversion is also authorized for offenses enumerated in § 7A-793. (§ 7A-793; § 15A-1341)
Full text of statutes can be retrieved using NCSL’s State Legislatures Internet Links database or learn more about NCSL’s Criminal Justice Program.