DeKalb County Bond Hearings
An “initial appearance” is typically a hearing before a judge and often the first step in the criminal litigation process in Georgia. The purpose of this hearing is to inform the defendant of the charges against them and, if applicable, allow for the setting and payment of bail or bond.
DeKalb County Bond hearings are considered essential procedures, so they continue as normal under virtually any external circumstances, including the current COVID-19 outbreak. Accordingly, anyone arrested in DeKalb County crime should speak with a seasoned criminal defense lawyer at Hawkins Spizman Fortas as soon as possible about how best to approach and proceed through this hearing.
When do Bond Hearings Take Place in DeKalb County?
In DeKalb County and elsewhere in the state of Georgia, bond hearings happen prior to arraignment hearings. They occur every day in front of the presiding Magistrate Court Judge. While the latter hearing involves the prosecutor formally bringing charges and the defendant entering their initial plea, the former centers around establishing the defendant’s fundamental rights and determining whether they are eligible for pre-trial bond or release.
According to Official Code of Georgia §17-4-26, a person arrested based on a warrant must be brought before a magistrate or judge for their initial appearance within 72 hours of hours. This window is shortened to 48 hours if someone is arrested without a warrant, as per O.C.G.A. §17-4-62.
Anyone arrested without a warrant who is not given a bond hearing within 48 hours must typically be released on a signature bond. However, legal precedent in Georgia allows a law enforcement officer to retroactively seek and be granted a warrant within the 48-hour period, in which case the legal requirements for continued detention are considered fulfilled.
How Bond Hearings Progress
Most bond hearings in DeKalb County begin with the judge or magistrate reading the charge(s) made against the arrested person and informing them of their legal rights, such as the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. If the prospective defendant declares at their initial appearance that they cannot afford an attorney, no other trial procedures can occur until they have secured or been provided with legal representation.
If the defendant was arrested without a warrant, the judge may also examine available evidence—such as a police report or affidavit—to ensure there was probable cause for the arrest. Following this, if the defendant was not already released on their own recognizance, the judicial officer may set an amount that the defendant must pay to bail themselves out of jail prior to their trial. Factors that may impact the amount at which bail is set includes whether the defendant is considered a flight risk and the impact their detainment would have on their family and community.
These procedures differ for defendants facing felony charges in comparison to misdemeanor offenses. If the subject of the hearing faces a felony charge(s) the judge would also inform them of their right to a grand jury indictment, as well as the next date and time when a grand jury will convene. Additionally, bail can only be set by superior court judges in most cases, so defendants seeking bail may need to petition the superior court for a hearing.
An Attorney Could Help with a Bond Hearing in DeKalb County
Every stage of a criminal trial can have a critical impact on its outcome, especially those that occur before the trial even begins. Among other things, bond hearings may determine whether you are able to prepare for trial effectively out of jail or are forced to remain imprisoned until your day in court.
If retained early enough, legal counsel could help guide you through your DeKalb County bond hearing and continue to work throughout your case to achieve a positive result on your behalf. Call today to ensure you have quality representation for every part of your criminal defense.