At one of the first court appearances following an arrest, the judge will set bond in the case. Your criminal defense attorney will make an argument for the lowest possible bond amount. The district attorney will likely argue for a higher bond. In cases that trigger the Victim’s Rights Act, often referred to as VRA cases, the victim of the alleged crime will have the right to be present and speak to the judge about what bond amount, and what conditions of bond, are appropriate.
The dollar amount of your bond will be set by the judge and will be based on considerations such as your criminal history, your connections to the local area, whether you appear to pose a danger to the community, and whether you are a flight risk. The court should also consider your ability to pay the bond amount. Your criminal lawyer will make arguments to the judge based on all of the above considerations during your bond hearing.
Conditions of Bond
In addition to requiring payment of bond, the judge may also impose court orders, called “bond conditions” that you must abide by in order to be assured that you can remain out of custody while your case is pending before the court. Examples of these conditions include (1) that you cannot leave the State of Colorado while the case is pending, (2) that you must be monitored by pretrial services, (3) that you may not have contact with victims or witnesses in the case, or (4) any other condition the judge believes is appropriate given the nature of the case. Violating any of the conditions imposed can result in the bond being revoked, and you being taken into custody.
Violation of Bail Bonds
A defendant who is on bond and either fails to appear for court, or violates any of the conditions of bond, commits the crime of Violation of Bail Bonds. A conviction for Violation of Bail Bonds carries a mandatory sentence to jail. The sentence for this offense is a mandatory 12 months in jail if the underlying criminal case involves one or more felony charges, and 6 months in jail if the case involves only misdemeanors and no felonies. This mandatory sentence cannot be waived by the judge, and must be served consecutively to any other sentence resulting from the original charges in the case.
Violation of Bail Bonds charges give the district attorney that is prosecuting your case much more leverage over you during plea negotiations. Because bail bond violations are generally easy to prove, and carry such stiff mandatory penalties, the district attorney can use this as leverage in getting you to accept a plea offer that is less favorable for you, before they will agree to dismiss the bail bonds charge. For this reason, it is very important not to miss court or violate your bond conditions.