South Carolina has new bond laws – “bond reform” that 1) is intended to keep accused repeat offenders in jail before their trial, but that also 2) ensures rich people who are charged with a crime can get out of jail pending trial while poorer defendants will continue to stay behind bars.
SC’s new bond laws include:
- A new crime for committing a violent offense while out on bond,
- A requirement that defendants who are accused of a new violent crime while out on bond pay any new bond in full and in cash,
- Automatic revocation of a previous bond if a defendant is accused of a new violent offense, and
- A requirement that a defendant who is convicted of a new offense while out on bond does not get credit for time served.
New Crime for Committing a Violent Offense While Out on Bond for a Previous Violent Offense
The 2023 amendments to SC bond laws include a new crime for committing “a violent crime while under a bond order or other pretrial release order for a previous violent crime.”
The new bond laws say, “If the person is convicted of the subsequent violent crime, and is thereafter convicted of a violation of this section, the person is guilty of a felony and must be imprisoned not more than five years.”
This seems to contemplate a second trial after the person is convicted of the subsequent violent crime, which makes sense to prevent the admission of prejudicial evidence like whether the defendant was charged (but not necessarily convicted) with other crimes like the one for which the defendant is on trial (a violation of SC Rule of Evidence 404(b)).
The fact that the defendant was out on bond for a violent offense – regardless of whether the defendant was guilty of that violent offense – would be an element of the offense that the prosecutor must prove at trial to get a conviction.
Want to bet solicitors will immediately start attempting to try both offenses at the same time so they can tell the jurors about the prior, unconvicted offense for which the defendant was out on bond?
Full Cash Bond Required for Defendants Accused of Violent Crime While Out on Bond
If a defendant is charged with a violent offense or any felony firearm offense while out on bond, and the court decides to set a new bond for the defendant, the “bond must be set at the full United States currency cash bond to the exclusion of all other forms of bond whether the bond is posted by the defendant or with a bondsman.”
This guarantees that any wealthy person who is charged with a new violent crime will get released on bond, while every poor defendant who does not have financial resources will stay in jail. Not because they were rearrested, but because they are poor.
Factors to Consider When Setting Bond Include Whether Defendant is Out on Bond for a Previous Offense
The new bond laws require that a bond court consider “whether a person is currently out on bond for another offense” when setting a bond for a defendant.
Revocation of Previous Bond if Defendant is Accused of New Violent Offense
If a person commits a violent offense or any felony offense involving a firearm while out on bond for a violent offense or any felony offense involving a firearm, then the bond for the previous offense is “revoked by operation of law and a hearing for the subsequent violent offense or any felony offense involving a firearm must be held in the circuit court within thirty days.”
If the court decides that it is appropriate to set a new bond for the defendant, then “any bond set for a violent offense or felony offense involving a firearm committed when the person was already out on bond for a previous violent offense or felony offense involving a firearm must be deposited to the court in cash or its equivalent in full, notwithstanding if posted by the person, his representative, or by a bond surety.”
Again, ensuring that a wealthy defendant will be released on bond while poor defendants are incarcerated pretrial. Not because they are repeat offenders, but because they are poor.
No Credit for Time Served if Defendant Commits New Offense While Out on Bond or Has Bond Revoked
The new bond laws will also prohibit giving a defendant credit for time served before trial and sentencing if the defendant was charged with another crime while out on bond or had their bond revoked on any charge before the trial or plea.
SC’s governor was recently pushing for harsher penalties for people accused of gun crimes in South Carolina, as the legislature was simultaneously trying to pass “constitutional carry” legislation that would have allowed every person to carry a concealed firearm in our state.
Although the concealed carry legislation did not pass this time around, they did succeed in ensuring that some repeat offenders will stay in jail before their trial (that was the stated goal) and that more indigent people will remain in jail pretrial…
As the governor said, “I’m less worried about overcrowding than I am about people getting killed.” By “people” he means the hypothetical South Carolina citizens who may be killed by a defendant who is released pending trial and not the inmates who are actually dying in South Carolina’s overcrowded jails…
Criminal Defense Lawyers in Columbia, SC, and Myrtle Beach, SC
The criminal defense attorneys at the Thompson & Hiller Defense Firm focus exclusively on criminal defense cases in SC. We have obtained dismissals, pre-trial diversion resulting in dismissals, or acquittals following trial in hundreds of criminal cases, and we have a record of proven results.
If you have been charged with a crime in SC or if you think you may be under investigation, call us now at 843-444-6122 or contact us through our website for a free initial consultation to find out if we can help.