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I checked in, but I can’t check out.

Oct 27

This week’s question reads as follows: “Dear Shane, I am a detainee at the ‘Shaver Inn.’  My bond was revoked.  Can I get my bond reinstated and, if so, how?” 

Alabama courts have decided that under the State Constitution, basically any defendant charged with a non-capital offense (for example, murder) has the right to bail, or in other words, to be released from jail.  The court can, however, factor in the age, reputation, prior criminal record, violence level of the offense, any property damage involved, and any other aspect of the defendant or circumstances of the crime in its determination to release a defendant from jail.  Once released, the defendant must follow certain mandatory conditions – he or she must agree to appear in court, not commit any further criminal offenses, not leave the state without permission, and notify the court of any change in address. Further, depending on the charge, the court may impose additional requirements; for example, the court may require the defendant to post a bond, reside with a certain person, restrict his or her travel, or require the defendant to be evaluated by the court referral office for drug and/or alcohol abuse. 

If the defendant breaks any of these conditions, the prosecutor may file a motion asking the court to re-arrest the defendant to determine if a breach occurred, and, if so, what the consequences will be.  The court must schedule a hearing to make these determinations without “undue delay”; however, it is sometimes helpful for either the defendant or his attorney to file a motion to schedule such a hearing. 

Before the hearing, the defendant’s bond is actually still in place, it is just “suspended.”  After the hearing, the decision on what to do rests solely with the judge.  For example, if the court determines the defendant can be released on his initial bond, nothing changes and the defendant is released.  However, if the defendant has been charged with a new crime, there may be a new bond to pay for that offense, or there may be more conditions of release imposed by the judge.  Finally, the judge could decide to revoke the defendant’s release, terminate his bond, and keep them in jail.

If the judge revokes a defendant’s bond, then the defendant must remain in jail until his or her case is over; however, the defendant can always ask the court to reconsider its position.  Usually, a motion to reconsider is based on the length of time the defendant has been in custody after the revocation. 

As always, this column is intended for general information purposes only.  It is not intended, nor should it be construed as personal legal advice.  The answers to most legal problems rely on the specific facts of your situation; therefore, it is very important that you personally see a lawyer when these situations arise.