After someone is arrested, detained, and goes through the booking process, the next step is what’s called a first hearing or a bond hearing. This typically happens within 24-48 hours after arrest and can be intimidating if you have never experienced an arrest before. To help ease any anxiety, here is an overview of what a bond hearing is and what to expect.
What exactly is a bond hearing
The first thing to know is that a bond hearing in no way impacts what will happen in an actual court hearing. The bond hearing is strictly to decide whether or not it is in the defendant’s and the court’s best interest to release the defendant while awaiting their hearing and if so, what the bond should be posted at. There may be times when the judge decides to not offer bond but it tends to be very rare and only with severe and violent charges.
How bail is decided upon
You may wonder how a judge even decides who should be released or not, but a judge does not just decide purely based on feeling but actually looks at various factors when coming to a decision. The most heavily weighted factors are the safety of society and victims but also if the defendant is from out-of-state, has significant resources or extensive criminal background, these are also things brought into consideration to see if it is appropriate to release the defendant.
What occurs during a hearing
When the bond hearing happens, it will actually only be a small group of people in the courtroom. The judge, defendant, legal defense, and any family if the defendant so chooses. To note, however, during the COVID pandemic, the rules about the hearing being open to the public may have changed. When the hearing starts, the judge will listen to the arguments from the defense as well as look at any records and information that is pertinent to the arrest. From there the judge will decide if they feel it is appropriate to offer bond and if so, how much the bond shall be set to and what bond conditions will be attached. Once this is done, the defendant then decides if they would pay the entire amount of the bond through a cash bond or hire a bail bondsman to help if the bond cost is too much out-of-pocket.
In the end, the bond hearing may seem scary and intimidating but it is just a way to start the process of getting released so that one can go home and set things right.