Pretrial Release | South Carolina


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 offenses enumerated in § 56-7-10 and offenses that are punishable by no more than 30 days and a $500 fine when committed in the presence of a law enforcement officer. Citations can be issued by a law enforcement officer. (§§56-7-10 &15; §22-3-540)

Pretrial Release Eligibility

State constitution provides a presumption of pretrial release. Pretrial release can be denied for capital offenses, offenses punishable by life imprisonment, and violent offenses enumerated in § 16-1-60. (Const. Art. 1 §15; §22-5-510)

Guidance for Setting Release Conditions

State statute provides a presumption of pretrial release on unsecured appearance bond. Courts are instructed to use a risk assessment when determining release of all defendants eligible for release. (§17-15-10)

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, supervision and additional requirements. Electronic monitoring is authorized for any detained defendants. (§§17-15-10 & 15; §38-23-10)

Bail Bond Agent Licensure

The Director 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. They cannot be employed as a sheriff, deputy sheriff or other law enforcement officer; judicial officer; attorney; parole or probation officer; jailer or assistant jailer; or an employee of a court. They must submit to a fingerprint based national and state background check, and crimes for which a license can be denied or revoked include all felonies or any crime involving moral turpitude within the past 10 years. (§38-53-90)

Bail Bond Agent Business Practices

The premium rate a bail agent can charge is the greater of $25 or 15 percent of the bond. They are prohibited from soliciting business any place prisoners are confined, in any court of office or any magistrate.  Bail agents cannot offer legal advice or make arrangements with public officials. (§38-53-170)

Bail Forfeiture Procedure

Statute addresses standards for remission procedure. (§17-15-180)

Recovery Agents

Recovery agents have similar licensing requirements as bail agents. Associations with bail agents must be disclosed. (§§38-53-90 &120)

Victims’ Rights and Protections

Victims have the right to notification of, to attend and be heard at the pretrial release hearing.  Victims also have a right to notification of pretrial release. (§16-3-1525(A)-(B), (H), & (I); Const. Art. I §24)

Pretrial Diversion

Diversion programs authorized include: substance abuse, domestic relations and worthless checks programs. Circuit solicitors are authorized to establish diversion programs. (§17-22-10 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.