Written by attorney Bill Powers


Bond, Bail & Pre-Trial Release in North Carolina is a COMMON area of inquiry. Please review the general information herein to determine the best manner in which to proceed. SEE ALSO AVVO.COM for specific NORTH CAROLINA GENERAL STATUTES pertaining to Bail & Bond. A summary of many, if not most, of the relevant Chapter 15A statutes is available within under "Chapter 15A, Article 26." SEE ALSO the NCIDS CLE for Appointed Counsel materials link.

A critical first step in any case is to seek pretrial release of an in-custody client. Pretrial release has an obvious and immediate benefit in the preparation of a case for trial.

The accused may receive a better result at trial or sentencing simply because he or she is not in jail. See Campbell v. McGruder, 580 F.2d 521 (D.C. Cir. 1978) (discussing phenomenon that defendant who is not incarcerated at time of trial stands better chance of being acquitted or, if convicted, receiving probationary sentence).

Upon arrest, the defendant must be taken without unnecessary delay before a magistrate or other judicial official for an initial appearance. See G.S. 15A-501(2), 15A-511.

An initial appearance before a magistrate is required in both misdemeanor and felony cases. See G.S. 15A-511 (requirements of initial appearance).

In most instances, the magistrate must set conditions of pretrial release. Defense counsel ordinarily has no input at this stage of the case; however, counsel who already represents the client may be able to speak with the magistrate who holds the initial appearance and thereby avoid a later bond motion.

Errors made by a magistrate, such as holding a defendant without bond, may provide grounds for relief for a defendant in some circumstances.

Misdemeanors Generally.

Unless local practice provides otherwise, a judge does not automatically review pretrial release conditions in a misdemeanor case. Typically, at initial appearance the magistrate sets a trial date in district court, which may be a week or more away.

Felonies First appearance.

After the initial appearance in a felony case, the defendant ordinarily appears before a district court judge for a first appearance. For an in-custody defendant, the first appearance must occur within 96 hours of arrest or at the next regular session of district court, whichever is earlier.

At the first appearance, the district court judge (or clerk of court if no district court judge is available) appoints counsel and reviews the conditions of pretrial release. See generally G.S. 15A-601 through 15A-606 (requirements of first appearance).

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