North Carolina residents who are taken into custody on criminal charges are usually anxious to regain their freedom as soon as possible, and this generally involves posting some sort of bail. The judges who oversee arraignment hearings take several factors into consideration before setting bail, but their chief concern is whether or not the defendant poses a flight risk. This is because bail is set to ensure that criminal defendants appear at their trials. Bail is not ordered to punish defendants and it does not necessarily reflect the severity of the crime or crimes involved.
However, serious crimes carry stiffer sentences, and bail is generally higher when defendants will have much to lose by appearing in court. Other factors that arraignment judges consider before setting bail include the defendant’s ties to the community, family and employment situations and previous criminal history. When defendants are viewed as a serious flight risk or pose a threat to the community at large, judges may deny bail completely.
Bail in North Carolina can be ordered in three ways. An unsecured bond does not have to be paid immediately, but defendants will become liable for the amount ordered if they fail to appear. Defendants lacking the necessary cash can meet their obligations by pledging assets like real estate or using the services of a licensed bail bond agent. Cash bonds must be paid entirely in U.S. currency. Defendants can also be released on their own recognizance after providing the court with a written promise to appear.
Experienced criminal defense attorneys may pay close attention to what prosecutors do and say during arraignment hearings. Prosecutors tend to make strong and impassioned arguments when they believe that their cases are strong, but they could take a more timid approach when the evidence they are relying on is less than compelling.