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 presumptive for minor misdemeanors. Citations can be issued prior to arrest by law enforcement officers. (§ 2935.26)
Pretrial Release Eligibility
State constitution provides a presumption of pretrial release. The constitution allows pretrial release to be denied for capital offenses and felonies that pose a substantial risk of serious physical harm as determined by the General Assembly. Statute allows pretrial release to be denied for noncapital aggravated murder, murder, 1st or 2nd degree felonies, aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular homicide, vehicular manslaughter, felony stalking, and felony driving under the influence. (Const. art. 1 § 9; § 2937.222)
Pretrial Release Conditions
Law allows release on an unsecured appearance bond. Common conditions of release include: commercial surety, cash deposit, property bond, other secured bond and supervision. A secured deposit, surety or property bond is required— only if the defendant is released without a pretrial hearing— for violent offenses against a family or household member if the offense was in violation of a protection order, or involved physical harm, possession of a deadly weapon, or threat of serious harm. (§ 2937.22; § 2937.281; § 3905.84; § 5149.30)
Defendants charged with felonies that pose a substantial risk of serious physical harm, noncapital aggravated murder, murder, 1st or 2nd degree felonies, aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular homicide or manslaughter, felony stalking or felony driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol require a hearing to deny pretrial release. State law specifies time frames for when the hearing must be held, addresses detainment of the defendant pending the outcome of the hearing and enumerates rights of the defendant. (§ 2937.222)
Bail Bond Agent Licensure
The Department of Commerce and the superintendent of Insurance regulate surety bail bond agents. To be licensed, applicants must meet age and residency requirements and not be: any person employed in a detention facility; an incarcerated prisoner; peace officers, including voluntary or honorary officers; employees of a law enforcement agency; committing magistrates; judges; employees of a court or of the clerk of the any court; attorneys or employed at an attorney’s office; a person with arrest power; or a person with authority over or control of any kind of prisoner. Crimes that can cause their license to be denied or revoked include criminal offenses that in some way impacted their professional responsibilities. (§ 3905.84)
Bail Bond Agent Business Practices
The premium rate a bail agent can charge is no less than 6.5 percent of outstanding bail bond premiums. They are prohibited from soliciting business in detention facilities or in any court. Bail bond agents cannot offer legal advice, recommend an attorney or make arrangements with public officials. Print advertisements in detention facilities are limited to a telephone directory listing and postings of the agent’s contact information in designated locations. Bail agents cannot engage in false or deceptive advertisements; advertisements must include the address of record of the agent on file with the Department of Insurance. (§ 3905.901; § 3905.932; § 3905.934)
Bail Forfeiture Procedure
After notification of their client’s failure to appear, a bail agent has no less than 45 days and no more than 60 days to produce the defendant or provide an adequate reason why the defendant did not appear. Statute addresses standards for remission procedure. Unpaid forfeitures can result in suspension of the agent’s authority to execute new bonds. (§ 2937.36; § 2937.39; § 3905.14)
Victims’ Rights and Protections
Victims have the right to notification of pretrial release. Pretrial release hearings are required for violent offenses against a family or household member if the offense was in violation of a protection order of the offense involved physical harm, possession of a deadly weapon, or threat of serious physical harm; assault on a police officer. (§ 2930.05(A); § 2919.251; § 2937.23)
Diversion programs authorized include: substance abuse and mental health programs. Prosecuting attorneys and presiding judges are authorized to establish diversion programs. (§ 2935.36; § 2951.041)
Full text of statutes can be retrieved using NCSL’s State Legislatures Internet Links database or learn more about NCSL’s Criminal Justice Program.