So why are some criminals out on the street the day after they’re arrested? Why was the suspect’s bond set so low?
The short answer: they paid the bond set at their bond hearing. The amount of the bond is based on the crime, set by S.C. and/or federal laws.
Once an arrested individual is booked into jail on a charge, the arresting officer relinquishes authority in that case to the prosecuting authority or solicitor. From this point forward, the arresting officer becomes a witness for the solicitor in the prosecution of the alleged offender. All aspects of the case are in the hand of the solicitor, including trial decisions and plea agreements.
The only exception to this rule are minor traffic or misdemeanor cases where the arresting officer is the prosecuting authority (traffic tickets, disorderly conduct, open container, etc.).
The portion of the law that governs bond hearings is Title 17, Chapter 15 of the South Carolina Code of Laws. Anyone can access this information by visiting www.scstatehouse.gov and navigating to the Code of Laws tab for the specific language and parameters used to govern bond hearings.
How does the bond hearing process work?
Why is someone allowed to make bail?
What bond can be set for various levels of charges?
ν Once an individual is taken into full custodial arrest and booked into jail, they are entitled to a bond hearing within 24 hours of the arrest.
ν Individuals charged with noncapital offenses triable in magistrate court, county court or circuit court are ordered released on their own recognizance (pending trial) unless the court determines the release will not reasonably assure the individual’s appearance where required or if the release poses an unreasonable danger to the community or another individual.
ν If the court believes the individual being considered for bail may not appear for court or he/she poses a threat, the court may impose various conditions of the release, such as a cash or surety bond, supervision or restrictions on travel, or with whom the suspect may associate.
ν There is an extensive list of matters that may be considered in determining the conditions of an individual’s release (17-15-30).
ν When the individual under arrest has been charged with a crime to be tried before a magistrate or municipal judge, the sum of money imposed may not exceed the maximum fine in the case for which the person is to be tried (22-5-530).
The arresting officer has no authority once the suspect is arrested and no input on what the bond should be. Those decisions are up to the solicitor based on state law.
The arresting officer may make a bond recommendation; however, it is just that — a recommendation. The final decisions are up to the solicitor based on state law.