Written by attorney Matthew Vernon Silva

Bond Reductions in North Carolina

The entire point of this guide is to explain the considerations, process, and dangers involved in getting a bond reduction. I believe this is an important topic because almost every time I visit someone in jail, I get the same basic question: "I heard you got [insert name]'s bond reduced. How much would you charge to get my bond reduced?"

First off, hiring someone to reduce your bond may be a complete waste of money. Before you engage an attorney for this work, you need to really question whether you can post ANY bond. If you, or your friends/family, have money to post a bond, you need to realistically determine what is the highest bond you can reasonably afford. You can determine this amount by assuming a bondsman will post a bond for roughly 10-15% of the bond amount.

That means if you, your friends, your family, and everyone you know can pool together $1,500.00, the most expensive bond you can post is going to be between $10,000.00-$15,000.00. If the most money you can gather is $1.50, the most expensive bond you can afford is $10.00-$15.00.

The next consideration covers the type of charges holding you in jail. If you are charged with raping children or murder, there probably isn't a judge on the planet that will realistically consider reducing your bond without being convinced you are innocent (by the way, saying your innocent is not very convincing). The simple fact of the matter is that the presumption of innocence does not exist in the media and the judge does not want to be the guy the media labels as the one that let a child molester back on the streets.

Assuming you are not charged with a B2 felony or higher (basically child rape and murder), the next consideration will be your prior criminal record. From experience as a prosecutor, people who qualify as habitual felons are not likely to get a bond reduction. In other words, if you have a clean (or close to clean) record, your chances of a reduction are better.

If you have money to post a bond, you are not charged with a top-level felony, and you have a relatively clean record, it is time to move to step 2: speak with an attorney to determine if a "Motion to Modify Pre-Trial Conditions" is right for you.

The lawyer understands you want your bond reduced, but there are only two ways to do it: By consent of the judge and prosecutor, or by a hearing in front of a judge and in opposition to the prosecutor. Either scenario requires a motion to be filed, and the caption should be "Motion to Modify Pre-Trial Conditions" (it can be captioned other things, but that is sufficient for the purpose of this discussion).

If the prosecutor will agree to the bond reduction, your motion for modification will likely prevail and I need not write further. However, this is for those people who have prosecutors that will not agree to a bond reduction (basically everyone outside of Greenville).

If the prosecutor is opposed to a bond reduction, you and your attorney need to talk about the possibility of a bond modification making your situation worse. You see, if you force a prosecutor to attend a modification hearing, the prosecutor has standing to ask the judge to INCREASE your bond. If the prosecutor makes this motion, you are in a seriously bad spot . . . not only can you not afford your current bond, but now your bond might become even more expensive!

If you are going to force the issue in opposition to the prosecutor, you need to make sure that you will never be able to afford the bond as it currently stands. In other words, knowing that trying to reduce the bond could cause the bond to increase, you only want to proceed if there is no earthly way that you will ever be able to afford hiring a bondsman to post your current bond.

To sum up, being on both sides of the fence has taught me that experience in criminal law makes all the difference. I know, and your attorney knows, you want a bond reduction. That knowledge does not change the legal landscape. Basically, it all boils down to this: I don't want to visit you in jail, therefore, I want you out of jail. However, I am not going to make your situation worse to satiate your immediate desires. Hire an experienced attorney and trust his/her analysis of your situation.

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