Pre-trial bond is not out of reach
When a person is arrested and arraigned on a criminal misdemeanor or felony, bond is frequently an issue. When magistrates and arraigning judges determine a bond or bail amount, the purpose is not to punish someone for being charged. Unless a person is charged a violent capitol offense such as murder, there should be some type of bond or bail. Courts look at a variety of factors, with their primary focus on a person’s perceived threat to the community and possible flight risk.
Further, the amount or conditions are not set in stone. Bond conditions may be challenged or modified later on by motion, or the presiding judge may decide to add additional conditions to a bond. The process of determining a bond amount varies significantly depending on the particular county, type of offense, whether a person has a past criminal history, and many of the factors.
However, this guide provides some insight into what the courts are supposed to examine when the amount is set.
Types of Bond
There are two important components with different types of bonds. First, there is the listed amount for the bond. This is a monetary determination made by the arraigning or presiding judge or magistrate. The second classification addresses how that bond can be posted. This guide lists some of the more common types of bonds. For more detailed information, please review Michigan Court Rule (herein-after “MCR”) 6.106.
- “Personal Recognizance:” Here, a person does not need to post any sort of bond to remain free from custody as their case proceeds.Common with less severe misdemeanors.
- “Cash/Surety:” A person needs to either post the listed amount or either obtain a bondsman who can provide a surety or negotiate some of type of “surety” agreement with the court.
- “10%:” A person needs to only pay 10% of the listed amount. There may be additional classifications or modifications depending on a person’s county of residence. Some judges may require a GPS tether for example.
MCR 6.106 (F) (1) (a-i) lists the following bond factors: (a) defendant’s prior criminal record, including juvenile offenses; (b) defendant’s record of appearance or nonappearance at court proceedings or flight to avoid prosecution; (c) defendant’s history of substance abuse or addiction; (d) defendant’s mental condition, including character and reputation for dangerousness; (e) the seriousness of the offense charged, the presence or absence of threats, and the probability of conviction and likely sentence; (f) defendant’s employment status and history and financial history insofar as these factors relate to the ability to post money bail; (g) the availability of responsible members of the community who would vouch for or monitor the defendant; (h) facts indicating the defendant’s ties to the community, including family ties and relationships, and length of residence, and (i) any other facts bearing on the risk of nonappearance or danger to the public.
Some general tips prior to being arraigned on a felony or misdemeanor charge:
- Have a trusted friend or family member appear at your arraignment. It’ll be potentially important to have someone available.
- Never assume you’ll be given a personal recognizance bond. Even with misdemeanor offenses, an arraigning judge may still insist on a small cash bond. Make sure you bring some cash or bring a trusted friend or family member with some money in case you need to post a bond.
- Have the cards of a few bondsman with you. If you know you may have to post in advance, it helps to have the contact information about bondsman in your local area.
- Bring personal paperwork with you regarding your employment, medical conditions, etc. As noted above, the court looks at these factors.
- Retain council and have legal representation at your arraignment. The right lawyer who represents you well could make the difference between walking out that day or getting stuck with a big bond.
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