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Whether arrested for a state crime or a federal offense, a defendant usually appears in court within 24 hours for a bail hearing, at which a judge must decide whether to keep the defendant in custody or to order release pending trial.

What is a bond hearing in South Carolina?

A bond hearing, sometimes referred to as a bail hearing, is usually the first thing that happens after a person is arrested in South Carolina. After the person is booked at the jail, then a bond judge will hear the case and determine whether to let the charged person out, and if so, under what conditions (making bail).

There are two major reasons for denying bail:

  • Flight risk — To decide whether the accused is likely to flee to avoid trial and punishment, the court considers his or her ties to the community and other factors, including the severity of the charges and resources that might enable the accused to reach a safe haven.

  • Threat to the community — A court might conclude that a defendant accused of a violent or otherwise serious crime is potentially too dangerous to remain at large.

Once the court decides it is appropriate to release a defendant pending trial, the question is whether to require him or her to post bail and in what amount. The Eighth Amendment prohibits “excessive” bail, but interpretations of that term vary greatly, as do bail amounts. Bail for a misdemeanor can be several hundred to a few thousand dollars, while bail for a serious felony can be upwards of a million dollars.

There are three possible outcomes of the bail hearing:

  • Release on personal recognizance — The defendant is released, without having to post bail, upon the condition that he or she will appear at all court dates.

  • Release on bail — The judge orders the defendant to pay a certain amount of money into court. This is usually done by purchasing a bail bond, a form of surety agreement secured by certain collateral, such as a home, jewelry or other assets. A bail bondsman charges a nonrefundable fee, typically 10 to 15 percent of the bond’s face value.

  • Release on other conditions — With or without requiring bail, a judge might order such add such restrictions as house arrest, an ankle monitor, a mental health assessment, limitations on travel and prohibitions on contact with the alleged victim

Once the defendant's bond has been set and the bail is posted, it takes between one to four hours for the defendant to be released. 

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