When you are arrested in Charlotte, you have rights, and you need to know what they are. Below, we deal with a few frequently asked questions after an arrest as well as bail so you will be prepared to respond if it ever happens to you.
Can I be arrested in Charlotte without an arrest warrant?
You can. In the state of North Carolina, if officers see a criminal activity happening, it is legal for them to arrest you. In fact, they don’t even have to witness the crime. If they have enough reason to believe that a felony has been committed, they are allowed to make an arrest.
Do I have rights after I am arrested?
Yes. You’ve probably heard the Miranda Rights being given on TV shows, but you need to know what those rights are and what they mean for you. These rights date back to 1966, when defense argued that they had not been notified of their rights when being forced into a confession. The rights are designed to prevent law enforcement from bullying anyone into admitting they took part in a crime.
What happens during processing?
When you are arrested and brought to a police station under police custody, you will be booked. This is when the police get your fingerprints and information, take your mugshot, and take away your belongings. You are then placed in a holding cell to await trial or bail.
What is bail and how should I deal with it?
Bail is the court’s way of ensuring you will come back for your trial. Usually, bail takes the form of bonds, cash, or property that the court seizes if you fail to show. If you do not go to court, a warrant for your arrest will be issued.
If it is your first ever court appearance, there is the chance of being released on your own recognizance, and if so, you will just have to sign a promise that you will return on your given court date. It is advisable that bail bonds be avoided. These usually cost around 10% of the bail amount, but if you’re able to post bail without one, you can get the entire figure back once your case is completed, if you never miss a court date.
How does a magistrate set bail?
Being charged with a criminal offense is frightening. For most people who are charged with a crime, the incident ends with a little time in the holding cell followed by being released on bail. In North Carolina, a magistrate has a great deal of discretion when it comes to determining someone’s pretrial release conditions. Some of the factors that the magistrate will consider include:
- A person’s charges
- Whether or not he or she poses a danger to people or property if released
- Whether or not he or she lives close by or out of state
- Whether or not the person is a flight risk and therefore likely to skip the court date
- Criminal history
Overall, the magistrate’s number one concern is that the person will appear in court on his or her given dates and the potential threat posed to others. Misdemeanors that are not particularly serious will often have smaller bail amounts or no bond requirement at all. For felonies, which are more serious, the amounts tend to be higher.
What conditions are placed on release?
Once the magistrate has assessed all the necessary factors, he or she will set the conditions for release, which typically fall into one of the below categories:
- Release into another person’s custody – the suspect may be released into someone else’s custody if, for example, he or she is intoxicated and not able to take care of him or herself.
- Written promise – the magistrate may release a suspect on a written promise to appear at the next court date. This is a best-case scenario for release and often happens when the magistrate finds the suspect to be a minimal flight risk and charged with a low-level misdemeanor.
- Cash bond – if the magistrate assesses the suspect’s circumstances and finds him or her to be a flight risk, a cash bond may be set. Cash bonds come in two forms: unsecured or secured. An unsecured cash bond means the suspect won’t have to pay money to be released provided he or she attends all the court dates. If the suspect fails to appear, the unsecure bond becomes secured and the suspect will have to pay the specified amount to be released on bail. In the case of a secured bond, a person must pay before being released.
- Bail bondsman – the suspect can either pay the full bond amount his or herself, or enlist the help of a bail bondsman to help post the bond. If this is the case, the suspect typically pays a fee to the bondsman which is a percentage of the bond, and usually between 10 percent – 20 percent. The bondsman will then post the remainder of the amount. The bail bondsman therefore bears the risk of the person not appearing in court. Failing to appear means the bondsman has to forfeit that bond.
Once such cases are disposed of, the bondsman gets the money back. If the person posted their bail money themselves, the entire amount is returned once the case is over. But, if a person can’t afford bond or the help of a bondsman, he or she is confined to jail until such time as the case is resolved.
For those who are unable to afford bail, all is not entirely lost. The person is entitled to a bond hearing where some circumstances can lead to the bond being lowered or the person being released from custody.
Get Help from a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested and require assistance, our experience criminal defense attorneys at Remington & Dixon are here to help. Contact a Charlotte Criminal Lawyer to discuss the terms of your bail and your required court appearances.
Brandon double-majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Throughout his career, Brandon has received numerous awards and recognition from his peers and agencies that rate attorneys. A few of these awards are from The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyer in 2014, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 in 2014, Nation’s Top One Percent: National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015, Super Lawyers: Rising Stars in 2018 and 2019, and North Carolina Business Magazine: Legal Elite in 2019, among others.