Attorney Question Of The Month

This month we asked our affiliated attorneys to share information about the procedures in their community for posting bail after a serious incident, and how that could be accomplished by an individual who does not have family members nearby to act on his or her behalf. The question arose because a Network member had asked a similar question of his attorney and that attorney shared the possible solutions with us (see the first response below). In posing the question to our other affiliated attorneys, we asked–

If a member is involved in a self-defense shooting and is arrested, what should he or she have done in advance to provide access to funds for bond if no family is available to assist? How does the state in which you practice handle bail for murder? For aggravated assault?

John P. Sharp
Sharp & Harmon Law Office
984 Clocktower Drive, Suite B, Springfield, IL 62704
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A good friend and Network member recently asked me the question, “If I am involved in a self-defense shooting and get arrested, how do I get access to funds for bond if no family is available to assist me?”

I thought it was a question many of your members might have also. A lot of people who live alone or have no family available may feel a particular need to carry a firearm or keep one available in their home for ready protection.

I have suggested to my friend the following:
1. Have your most trusted friend or family member aware of where a spare key is located, or provide them a key, to access your home.

2. Make them aware of where in your home to look to find an envelope you have prepared in advance, in case of emergency, which would include the following:

a. A letter from you to your attorney outlining where your bank accounts are located, and/or your credit card is kept. The letter should give specific permission to either the relative, friend, or attorney to contact your bank to attempt to secure funds to be used for your bond, or should give specific instructions to allow the use of your credit card by them, acting on your behalf, for the same purpose.
b. The envelope should also contain documentation of bank account numbers.

3. You may, if you own your residence, wish to include information such as the approximate value of the real estate so that if necessary, you could explore the posting of a property bond to secure your release. Property bonds may often have to involve property worth twice the amount of the bond; no 10% rule would necessarily apply.

In Illinois, for example, if bond were set at $500,000.00, a person would normally be required to post 10%, or $50,000.00, to secure their release, unless the judge orders that no “10% rule” applies. If a property bond were posted, it would be necessary to post unencumbered property (no mortgages or liens) worth one million dollars.

4. If you live in a state where bail bondsmen are used, then leaving instructions in the above-mentioned envelope to contact such a bondsman would be a good idea. In Illinois, bail bondsmen are not an option.

Persons arrested, even in self-defense shootings, need to understand that the purpose of bond is to ensure a person appears in court on whatever charges may be filed against them, and is not to be punitive (designed to punish). The reality of the situation is that there are as many different approaches to what constitutes a “reasonable” bond as there are jurisdictions, prosecutors, and judges within the United States.