Bail and Domestic Violence Cases
Courts in Colorado take domestic violence cases extremely seriously. These are some of the most complex cases imaginable as they involve the competing rights of the aggrieved party to live their life free of the threat of violence, stalking and other types of abuse, and the right of the accused to the presumption of innocence. Unfortunately, as any experienced bail agent can attest, domestic violence cases are all too common and courts often place a variety of extraordinary conditions on the release of the accused.
Below we will look at the process the court goes through when determining whether a person accused of domestic violence should be released on bail, and what conditions they may apply to the person’s release.
Defining Domestic Violence
In recent years the law has finally caught on to the fact that domestic violence takes more than one form. Colorado’s domestic violence laws have been modified to reflect this enhanced awareness and now cover overt violence, attempted violence, verbal and emotional harassment, threats of future violence, threats of recrimination as well as physical and psychological coercion.
Setting Bail in Domestic Violence Cases
Once a domestic violence complaint has been filed and a person arrested, obtaining bail is not as straightforward as calling the bonding company and arranging for 24 hour bail bonds. First of all, some domestic violence offenses are non-bailable. These include attempted murder, severe bodily harm and sexual assault. Secondly, bail schedules do not apply in domestic violence cases, meaning the defendant will be held until a bail hearing is set.
If a judge or magistrate is available bail hearings usually occur within 24 hours of arrest. If, for whatever reason, a judge or magistrate is not immediately available it may take up to 48 hours or even a bit longer before the bail hearing. Less serious cases will normally result in bail being set at $500 – $1,000. But in severe or repeat cases bail amounts can be significant and the conditions set upon the defendant’s release both numerous and strict.
Determining Bail and Applying Conditions in Domestic Violence Cases
As we said at the outset domestic violence cases are some of the most vexing facing the courts. While the defendant’s presumption of innocence must be respected judges must weigh that against a variety of other factors, including:
- The nature of the alleged offense and the current state of the victim.
- The amount and type of evidence against the accused.
- Any threats the accused has made toward the victim.
- Whether there are children involved.
- The person’s employment and financial status.
- Whether family members depend on his or her income.
- The criminal history (if any) of the accused.
- The likelihood the accused will flee if released.
- Any ties the accused may have to the community.
Perhaps the most important consideration the court weighs in determining if a person accused of domestic violence should be accorded bail, and how much that bail should be, is a prior history of domestic violence. Domestic violence has a tendency to escalate over time and the court needs to consider whether the case before them indicates an escalation.
Common Conditions of Release in Domestic Violence Cases
Exact conditions of release will vary from case to case, but the following are some of the most common release conditions in cases of domestic violence:
- No contact with the alleged victim as in no phone calls, no letters, no emails, no SMS messages, no replies on social media posts or any other type of contact.
- Staying at least 500 feet away from the alleged victim, their home, their vehicle, and their place of work. The same may also apply to any children involved.
- The defendant shall not possess or use any type of firearm while on bail.
- They may be ordered to surrender any guns they own.
- No use or possession of alcohol or drugs while on bail.
- GPS monitoring by way of an ankle bracelet.
- In some cases, the defendant may be placed under house arrest.
The primary interest of the court is in maintaining the peace between the parties involved and ensuring there is no repeat of the alleged offense, or additional offenses, while the accused is free on bail. If the court determines the defendant is likely to ignore or otherwise violate any terms of release they may simply decide to deny bail and remand the accused to custody while awaiting their day in court.
The Importance of Adhering to the Conditions of Your Release
If you have been accused of domestic violence and released on bail it is vital that you adhere to the conditions placed upon your release. Failure to do so will result in your bail being revoked and the possibility of new, additional charges being brought against you. Not only that, failing to abide by the conditions of your release can have a huge negative impact on your life going forward.
What About the Bail Bond Company?
A bail bond agent is not compelled to provide assistance and sometimes in cases of domestic violence, they will decline to help. So if you have been arrested on a domestic violence charge and the court has decided to allow you bail, and a bondsman has decided to help, it’s in your interests to respect the bondsman and the faith they have placed in you.
If you have been accused of domestic violence and are in need of affordable bail bonds contact Urban Bail Bonds at (303) 736-2275.