Attorney Question of the Month
Because the Network has a membership benefit of assisting innocent members in obtaining bail bond, members often express a wish to understand how posting bail works in their state. We asked our affiliated attorneys to help out by responding to the following questions.
Is bail bonding allowed in your state?
If not, what options exist for a defendant to be released from jail following self defense gun use?
Typically, what conditions, restrictions or allowances affect bail if the defendant has used a gun against another human? When you counsel clients and their families, what “reality checks” do you explain to dispel unrealistic expectations?
John R. Monroe
John Monroe Law, PC
6 Robert Jones Road, Dawsonville, GA 30534
Bail bonding is allowed in Georgia.
In cases where a gun is used against another person (i.e., another was actually shot, not just threatened or shot at), the defendant is most likely going to be charged with aggravated assault (if there was not a death) or murder (if there was a death). There are some other possibilities, but the police normally do not get very nuanced when they apply for arrest warrants. They let prosecutors do that.
If you are arrested for murder, you could be incarcerated for several days or even longer before your bond amount is set, and you may be denied bond altogether. That will depend on the circumstances of your case, both what you are accused of doing and what your life factors are (ties to community, job, family, criminal history). I would expect most people who are members of the Network would be able to get a bond, but it might be high (six figures) and it still might take a while.
If you are arrested for aggravated assault, you probably will get a bond set pretty quickly and it probably will be more manageable (five figures). In either case, it is a virtual certainty that a bond condition will be not to possess firearms, so you should be prepared to make arrangements to have your firearms placed where you will not be able to access them so they are not seized when you are arrested.
One thing people may not realize, is if you pay a bail bondsman his fee in GA, he still is going to want someone other than the defendant to sign on as being responsible for the bond amount if the defendant fails to appear. Usually that would be a relative or close (really close!) friend. This can be a big problem for people who do not have a close network. If no one will sign for you, even if you can afford the bonding fee, you don't get out.
Jeffrey F. Voelkl, Esq., LL.M.
Robshaw & Voelkl, P.C.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
5672 Main Street, Williamsville, NY 14221
In New York, bail bonding is permitted.
The purpose of setting bail is to ensure the presence of the accused at future court proceedings. Bail should never be used as a punitive proceeding. The factors that a judge will consider are the severity of the crime, the accused’s past criminal history, ties to the community, employment, assets and their location, and any other relevant factors. There may even be occasions when the judge feels assured the accused will come back to court without any bail being posted and thus “release on your own recognizance” may be appropriate.
If, however, the judge believes bail is necessary to ensure the accused will be present at future proceedings, the next decision for the judge is to decide how much bail is necessary and in what form it should be. Bail can take many forms in New York State. It can be cash, bond, property, real estate, undertaking from another person, release under supervision of probation, release into the custody of a family member, etc.
It is the job of your attorney to explain to the court all the relevant factors and address any concerns the judge may have so that the accused is released from custody pending prosecution. No one wants to be unnecessarily incarcerated. Being out of jail means you have more time and resources to effectively work on your defense and get ready for future court proceedings.
Roy M. Doppelt, Esq.
Doppelt & Forney
16466 Bernardo Ctr. Dr. Ste. 260, San Diego, CA 92128
Yes, bail bonding is allowed. Below is link from San Diego Superior Court for bail bonding and, in fact, bail is presumed per California Penal Code Section 1271.
In some cases, the judge will deny bail and these can include firearm charges and firearm related charges. To deny bail, the judge must find the below and each case is individual as to counseling.
1. Accused of committing crime
2. For all bail hearings, presumption of guilt and not innocence
3. If released, would be a present danger to the community
Derek M. Smith
Partner Law Offices of Smith and White, PLLC
717 Tacoma Ave. S., Suite C, Tacoma, WA 98402
Bail bonds are allowed in Washington and, in most, cases required (the exception being capital cases).
When I talk with clients about bail, much depends on where this occurred. There is a huge difference in bail amounts between counties. Generally, what I am looking for are ties to the community, the ability to show community support for the accused, other ties to the community (work, home, children), and longevity of those ties. Obviously, severity of the crime factors in (assault in the second degree vs. murder for example). And the condition of the victim(s) is significant as well.
900 Jackson Street, Suite 635, Dallas, TX 75202
Is bail bonding allowed in your state?
If not, what options exist for a defendant to be released from jail following self-defense gun use?
We also have personal recognizance bonds, since there is a movement away from bonds as means to ensure presence at trial.
Typically, what conditions, restrictions or allowances affect bail if the defendant has used a gun against another human?
There may be restrictions on places where the citizen accused may go, e.g. near home or workplace of alleged victim. There may be a requirement to relinquish possession of firearms, usually done by passing them to a friend or relative with whom the citizen accused does not live. There may be other restrictions; e.g. drug testing if the allegations involve conduct while under the influence of drugs.
When you counsel clients and their families, what “reality checks” do you explain to dispel unrealistic expectations?
The process is long. Usually time is the ally of a citizen accused, once things cool down. Further, in a fight, never negotiate yourself. Set your sights high, whether you make the goal dismissal, acquittal, or a particular sentence (if the evidence and facts are against the citizen accused).
Mark D. Biller
Attorney at Law
P.O. Box 159, Balsam Lake, WI 54810
You asked, “What are the bail options in Wisconsin?”
Wisconsin does not use bail bondsmen. What the judge sets is what the accused must post. Signature bonds (an agreement between the accused and the court with no cash component) are common. The chief purpose of bond is the re-appearance of the accused, but public safety figures prominently.
In any shooting case, I would expect to have to fight hard for anything other than a high cash bond, even if my facts are favorable. Most judges in a shooting case will error on the side of caution (and politics) and leave favorable facts for the jury, while setting significant cash bond.
I have often found that the families of the accused have tunnel vision on raising bond for their loved ones, while losing sight of the fact that their chosen lawyer is unlikely to take an IOU when they put all of their available resources into bond. This is a conversation I have early with the folks of the accused. It’s also an excellent reason to be an Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network member.
By far the most difficult bond and jury arguments to make are on behalf of the “loud and proud Second Amendment” types (i.e.” “I have a right to stand my ground.” “I have a right to shoot until the threat is down.” “We don’t dial 911.” “Forget the dog, beware of the owner.” “Yada, yada, yada.”) The statements you make can be uncovered by the prosecution and used to advance a pre-meditation argument on both bond and guilt. Be prepared for a zealous prosecutor to send investigators to your CCW instructor asking, “Who was the bad apple in your class?” In short, watch your mouth. It can sink your ship.
A big “Thank You!” to our affiliated attorneys for their comments. Please return next month when we pose a new question to our affiliated attorneys.
To read more of this month's journal, please click here.