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Being arrested for a crime can be a scary and disorienting experience. If you have found yourself in this situation, you’re likely wondering what to do next. In most criminal cases, the bail hearing comes after the arrest. If you’re confused about how the process works in South Carolina, learn what to expect so you can start planning your next move.

Why South Carolina Judges May Set Bail

Contrary to popular belief, this process isn’t meant to punish or burden you with a hefty financial obligation. Instead, it’s supposed to encourage you to show up for court hearings. Court officials believe that if you have to spend a large amount of money to be released from custody, you won’t miss your court dates if you know you might get that money back.

In some cases, a judge may decide it’s better to keep you in custody. This usually happens if they feel you are likely to flee, if you have an extensive criminal history, or if you present a significant danger to the community.

Knowing What to Do When Money Is Limited

If you can’t afford bail, you may seek the assistance of a third party, commonly known as a bondsman or bond agency. This entity enters into a financial agreement with you or a family member — you pay a premium (a percentage of the bail amount), and the bondsman covers the remaining amount.

In these agreements, you are usually required to offer up collateral of some type, such as jewelry, property, or even your investment portfolios. This becomes necessary because the bondsman takes on a lot of financial risk and will be held responsible for the full bond amount if you skip your court date.

During and After Your Hearing

The bail hearing represents the first step in the process, where the judge decides whether you are eligible for release. If you are not a flight risk or a threat to the community, you may be released on personal recognizance (which means you can simply sign an agreement to show up for court) or with a financial requirement. 

Other conditions may also apply, such as travel limitations or house arrest. If you violate any of the release conditions the judge has set, you may be arrested again and held in custody until your trial.

Once the judge has decided that you can be released on the condition that you pay a set amount, you can simply have a friend or family member go to the court and transmit the payment. If you are working with a bondsman, that third party will post the bond with the court on your behalf.

If you pay in cash and you show up for court as promised, you may be able to get that cash back (minus any court fees) at the end of the trial. However, the court may use your bail to cover fines or restitution. If you use a bondsman, the money will be returned to them.

A Knowledgeable Criminal Defense Attorney Makes All the Difference

Working with an attorney can be extremely helpful during the bail process. The judge who conducts your hearing will allow you to present evidence that proves why you should be released from custody on personal recognizance or with a set amount of cash to pay. Because an experienced attorney understands the law and knows how judges make their decisions, they can help you obtain the best possible outcome.

If you need help after an arrest in Spartanburg, South Carolina, contact a criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Mo Abusaft. We can help you understand the process and provide sound legal advice so you can decide your next steps.