Bond Hearings

A bond is essentially collateral securing a promise, once released, to appear in court if a person is arrested and taken to jail. This collateral usually takes the form of cash, property, or security deposit.

If a person is arrested in Georgia and taken into custody, they must be brought before a magistrate judge within 72 hours. The purpose of this “first appearance” hearing is to discuss the issue of bond. The judge must be shown that the accused is not a flight risk, is not a threat to themselves or the community, will not commit other crimes while out on bond, and will not intimidate any potential witness. If these requirements can be shown, the judge may issue a bond in any amount he/she feels is reasonable considering the offense/s charged and the facts of the case. For some very serious offenses, only a superior court judge is authorized to grant a bond.

You are entitled to be represented by a lawyer at all essential stages of the criminal justice process. No matter what the situation is, this first stage is critical, often having an impact on the ultimate resolution of your case. If the judge denies bond for any reason at this first appearance hearing, all is not lost. If you are denied bond, a preliminary hearing is typically scheduled within 15-30 days. At this hearing evidence is presented to the magistrate judge to determine if probable cause exists for the case to move forward to prosecution. The issue of bond can be revisited. If bond is denied here, sometimes you will be allowed to petition the superior court. If bond is ever denied outright, you may not request bond again for 90 days and must show a material change in circumstance warranting the granting of a bond.

There are several different kinds of bonds a judge can grant.

  • Own Recognizance (OR)/Signature Bond (SOB): with an Own Recognizance bond a person is not required to put up any type of collateral to secure his/her promise to appear in court. A Signature Bond is slightly different. A person is still not required to put up any type of collateral to secure his/her promise to appear in court, but if they fail to do so, they will be required to pay a monetary court fine.
  • Surety Bond: a bonding company posts the bond on a person’s behalf. Bonding companies usually charge a fee of around 10 – 15% of the bond amount before posting the rest to the jail to secure a person’s release.
  • Property Bond: in this case, property is used as the collateral to secure a person’s promise to appear in court.
  • Cash Bond: with a cash bond, a person pays the bond in cash directly to the jail. If the person never fails to appear in court, once the case is resolved, the money will be returned.

Failure to appear (FTA) results in a bench warrant for your arrest and a forfeiture of the bond you fought hard to obtain. But bench warrants can be set aside and bonds reinstated.

You need to know your rights and how to protect them. If you are under investigation and think you might be facing a possible arrest for which a bond will be necessary, or a loved one is currently in custody on a new arrest or for failing to appear in court, call now!

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