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Virginia Bond Hearings
WE SPECIALIZE IN:
FAIRFAX VA BAIL BONDS
FAIRFAX VA BOND HEARINGS

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Outline of the Bond Hearing or Bond Motion Process in the Commonwealth of Virginia
Due to the significant amount of incorrect information on this subject on the internet the first step is to distinguish the bond motion, or bond hearing, from the Magistrates bond hearing and the arraignment hearing.  When an accused is arrested the first step they will go through prior to being incarcerated is an informal hearing with a Virginia Magistrate.  The Magistrates job is to determine if there is enough evidence to charge the accused and if appropriate, set bail immediately.  Although they are not judges Magistrates have the power to set bail according to guidelines defined by the state as well as their own judgment.  The Magistrate will look at the criminal record of the accused as well as listen to the arresting officers testimony to determine if bail is appropriate and if so set a bail bond.  Some serious crimes hold what's called a "presumption against bond", if this is the case the Magistrate has no power to set bail and the accused will be "held without bond" regardless of the Magistrates own opinion.  In this case the only option the accused has to obtain bail is the bond hearing or bond motion. 

The Arraignment Hearing
This Magistrate bond hearing is completely independent of the arraignment hearing which is the first appearance that an accused will have in court regardless of whether they are still incarcerated or have been granted bail. The arraignment hearing generally consists of being read the charges against them, entering a plea of guilty or not guilty, and providing information on attorney.  In some counties anyone arrested and still in jail when court comes back into session the next day will see a judge either in person or by video.  Although this is referred to as "arraignments" no plea is entered.  These "video arraignments" are generally limited to information on attorney and the inmate will be interviewed by court services to determine if they qualify to be offered Supervised Release.  The judge has the option to alter their bail status including granting bail, or altering the bond amount however, they rarely do so. 

The Bond Hearing
If the accused is "held with no bond" the next step in getting the person out of jail is to retain an attorney either by court appointment or by hiring private counsel and having the attorney file with the court for a bond hearing.  A bond hearing is a formal court date with both defense and prosecution present where the issue of bail will be argued in front of a judge.  The judge will decide if bail is appropriate and determine the amount of the bond. 

What to Expect at a Bond Hearing
A bond hearing is generally a short proceeding where the defense offers an argument as to why the defendant should be granted bail and the prosecution will argue to keep the defendant incarcerated until the case is finalized.  There are two issues that must be overcome by the defense in order to have the judge grant their client a bail bond they are: risk of flight and danger to the community.  

1) Risk of flight - The defense must offer evidence that illustrates that the accused will not flee from the court system upon release to avoid being prosecuted.
 Examples of evidence that supports the defense in overcoming risk of flight would be:
    - If the defendant has lived in the area for a long time
    - Current employment / education
    - Local family or other ties to the community
    - No previous history of failing to appear at a court date
    - Other additional measures that reduce flight risk such as GPS ankle bracelet monitoring
(Lookout Bail Bonds is the only Virginia Bail Bonding Company currently offering voluntary GPS monitoring to clients to improve their chances of being granted a bail bond)

2) Danger to the community - Would releasing the accused pose any danger to the community?  What is the possibility that this individual would commit more crimes if released prior to their court case? 
Examples of evidence commonly offered by the defense counsel to overcome danger to the community.
    - No previous criminal record or no violent crimes
    - Character witnesses and letters such as neighbors, pastors, employers or other individuals who will testify for the accused
    - Other conditions that would further ensure the publics safety such as being in the Military and having a duty station that requires 24 hour supervision.

During this hearing the prosecution will attempt to offer evidence supporting the Commonwealths position that the accused should remain incarcerated until the case is finalized.  Every piece of evidence the defense submits can be questioned by the prosecution including the cross-examination of any witnesses. 
Examples of evidence that the prosecution may submit to address risk of flight:
    - Defendant is not local and has ties to other states or country's such as family or friends outside the Commonwealth
    - Unemployment, especially long term unemployment and or poor employment history
    - Previous record of failure to appear at any court date
    - No local ties to the community such as church or other social responsibilities
    - Seriousness of the charges and the potential jail time the accused is facing

Examples of evidence commonly submitted by the prosecution to address danger to the community
    - Past criminal record especially violent crimes
    - Details about the case. The Commonwealth's Attorney is able to proffer limited evidence about the case that supports their argument as long as it is specifically relevant to proving the accused is a potential risk to the community.  For example: The defendant robbed a bank then two days later robbed another bank.  A week later he robs a gas station.  The prosecution could argue that the crime was not a "one time lapse in judgment" and that the accused is just as likely to commit more crimes as he is not to.
    - Witness testimony including law enforcement
(the defense will have an opportunity to cross examine)

Both defense and prosecution will attempt on cross examination to discredit the witness and make objections about the relevance of any testimony or other evidence.  Since there is no jury present the judge has the final say in regard to granting bail and amount of the bond.

What Happens if a Bond is not Granted?
If the judge finds in favor of the Commonwealth and the accused is not granted a bond the defense has the option to appeal the decision.  If the case is still being heard in General District Court or Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court the next step is to appeal the bond hearing up to Circuit Court where the entire process is repeated and a Circuit Court judge has the option to overturn the decision.  If the case is already being heard in Circuit Court the next step would be to the Virginia Court of Appeals in Richmond Virginia however, it is rare that the Court of Appeals would overturn a Circuit Court decision on bond. 

Summary
A bail bond hearing is the only option for an accused to get out of jail if they have been held with no bond.  Because of this fact it is critical to retain a talented attorney prior to the hearing so they can be prepared to offer the best argument.  Making letters, character witnesses, and other evidence supporting the accused available to your attorney will give them a much a much better chance to overcome the prosecutions argument against bond. 
These hearings are often emotional for friends and family members.  It is best to contact our office prior to your hearing date to arrange to have one of our professional bail bondsman accompany you to court to answer questions and start the bonding process as quickly as possible once bail is granted.  Lookout Bail Bonds LLC provides this service free of charge whether bail is granted or not.  Be sure that your attorney is aware that Lookout Bail Bonds is the only Virginia bail bonding company that provides voluntary GPS monitoring to clients.  They may need to add this as a condition to get the judge to grant bail. 



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703-468-8900  or  540-242-1200
We are happy to answer any questions about Virginia bond hearings 24 hour a day