Getting a defendant a bond is one of the most crucial stages in any Georgia criminal case. In many cases this happens automatically, such as with misdemeanor offenses. In more serious cases or when there are bad facts following the defendant, a bond must be sought either at the magistrate or higher court depending on the offense. However, even if bond is denied after a hearing, hope for a bond is not necessarily at an end.
The 90-Day Statute
One of the best approaches to getting a bond set when it has been denied by a judge in Georgia, is to assure that the district attorney has complied with O.C.G.A. Section 17-7-50. Except for in death penalty cases, this statute gives the defendant the right to have his or her case put before a grand jury for indictment within 90 days of being incarcerated. If that does not happen and the deadline is passed, the defendant is entitled to having a bond set in their case.
A Few Considerations
While the statute is clear that a bond must be set, it does not indicate the amount of the bond that is required. The bond amount, and conditions/restrictions on the bond are still within judicial discretion. Thus, it is still important to have an attorney advocate for a reasonable bond amount and associated conditions.
A second important consideration is that the statute gives the incarcerated defendant the right to have his case put to the grand jury. Thus, if the prosecutor only accuses the case and does not seek an indictment before the grand jury, a bond still must be set after the 90-day period expires.
The 90-Day Period and COVID-19
Unfortunately, during COVID-19 in Georgia there is a tolling effect going on in Georgia criminal cases with respect to bond. Given the judicial emergency, any time from March 13 until the judicial emergency ends (it is now set to expire on May 13) is tolled or does not count toward the 90 day period for indictment. The practical effect is that there are many individuals sitting in jail without a bond or being indicted in Georgia at this time.
If you or a family member is incarcerated and is seeking bond or otherwise seeking a solution to be released from confinement, contact us today for a free consultation!