Changes to Getting Bond in Virginia Criminal Courts are Coming Soon

During the most recent legislative session, the Virginia General Assembly passed a variety of criminal justice reforms.

One significant change implemented was in the area of bail and bond.

Specifically, the General Assembly repealed the long-standing presumption against bond that existed for many criminal offenses. In practice, this meant that magistrates were not permitted to grant bond to individuals charges with violent crimes such as malicious wounding and robbery, charges carrying mandatory jail or prison time, and other offenses.

Judges were required to overcome this presumption in court and often declined to do so indicating the Code of Virginia had bound their hands in making a decision to release a person facing these types of charges.

Now, the court has full discretion to grant or deny bond to defendants, regardless of the crime charged. Judges may consider the nature of the alleged offense(s), the weight of the evidence, whether a firearm is alleged to be used, the personal history of the individual defendant, the individual’s criminal history, the ties to the community, the history of past appearances or non-appearances at court hearings, an allegation or actual threat to a household/family member, witness or juror.

When your family member or loved one is in custody at a local Tidewater jail pending a bond hearing, be sure that you have provided your attorney with all the necessary documentation to assist in his or her defense. Unfortunately, because so many people before the court present false testimony, judges in Hampton Roads are sometimes less likely to believe their statements. It is always worth waiting an extra day or two to obtain these forms of verification before setting a bond hearing, especially when it often increases the likelihood of bond being granted.

For example, letters from employers, school transcripts, or mental health and substance abuse treatment records will help your lawyer in persuading the judge to grant bond, frequently with the added conditions of attending pretrial services, a curfew, or a no contact order.

If you are in need of scheduling a bond hearing in Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, or Virginia Beach, do not hesitate to contact our office for a consultation.