Criminal cases are divided into three classes: 1) violations and 2) misdemeanors; and 3) felonies. Violations put you at risk for a fine. Misdemeanors are low-level offenses that typically result in up to a $500 fine and/or up to 1 year in custody at a local jail. Felonies are offenses that carry fines in excess of $500 and carry prison time over 1 year. If you are arrested on a misdemeanor or a felony, you are entitled to a bond. Bond comes in many forms, and may require the posting of money, property or acquiring a signature of a person who will guarantee to the Court that they will make sure you follow all the rules of bond and return for all court dates. A bond is set by the judge.
If you are detained, you must be interviewed by Pretrial Services within 24-hours. The Pretrial Services Officer will then give information from that interview to the Judge so the Judge can set your bond. It is very important that you meet with Pretrial Services. If you do not, then the Judge will not set a bond. If a bond has been set, your bond can be posted at your local county courthouse or the local jail (in most counties).
You are entitled to an arraignment in front of the Judge. In many counties this will take place over a video feed from the jail to the courthouse. Your friends and family can go to the courthouse and watch this proceeding. At this time, you will be able to make a request for a reduced bond. Information that is helpful to your lawyer: how much you can pay; whether any family member can help post bond and their contact information; if you or any family member owns property that can be used to post bond; if you have employment that will be impacted by incarceration; your family obligations; medical treatment that cannot be received at the jail; a history of mental health treatment or need for mental health treatment; or any other factor that makes your continued incarceration a burden on you or your family.
After you are arraigned in District Court, the Judge will set your case for a Pretrial Conference for misdemeanors or a Preliminary Hearing for felonies.
If you are charged with a felony, you will have a second arraignment in Circuit Court. This arraignment will take place after you are done with district court, and after your case has been presented to the Grand Jury. If the Grand Jury issues an indictment, you will be brought before the Circuit Court Judge. Prior to your arraignment, the Circuit Court judge will review your bond. The bond may go up, or down. If you are out of custody, this may mean that you will be placed back in custody on a higher bond. At your arraignment, your lawyer can move the court to reduce your bond.