If you or a loved one has been arrested, it may feel as if your life has been upended. And if this is your first encounter with the criminal justice system, the sudden rush of rules and regulations can be confusing. To help clarify things, let’s have a look at how travel restrictions work within the context of the bail bond system.
How Free Are You When Released on Bail?
Under U.S. law, a defendant accused of a crime is considered innocent until proven guilty. If you’re arrested and charged with a crime, however, you’ll still have to meet certain conditions, even though you are still considered innocent. These include both conditions for making bail as well as for maintaining your part of the bail agreement.
The idea behind pretrial release is twofold: (1) to allow defendants to resume their lives (employment, family commitments, etc.) until trial, and (2) to reduce the custodial burden on the criminal justice system. If you are released on bail, you are typically permitted to resume employment and meet community and family obligations. Travel restrictions remain at the discretion of the court and are typically decided on a case-by-case basis.
How Are Restrictions Determined?
There are several factors that a judge or magistrate will examine when determining what restrictions to place on your pretrial release. These include…
- The severity of the offense. Generally, more severe crimes result in stricter bail restrictions.
- Your past criminal history. The court is permitted to look at your past criminal history when determining bail parameters. If you have a history of violent crime, repeat offenses, or bail jumping, your bail may be severely limited or denied.
- Flight risk. If the court has reason to believe you may flee if released on bail, the judge or magistrate may increase the bond amount or set specific travel restrictions. For example, if you have family abroad, and the court deems you a flight risk, the judge may ask that you surrender your passport.
- Physical & mental status. The court will often take into account a defendant’s state of mind or physical condition when setting bail conditions. A defendant with a history of mental illness, for example, may not be permitted to travel out of the court’s jurisdiction.
There are also some general restrictions that apply to all those released on bail. These include…
- Obeying all laws
- Refraining from drug or alcohol use
- Surrendering any weapons
- Seeking or maintaining employment
- Refraining from contact with designated people or places.
How Do I Ask for Permission to Travel?
Since travel restrictions are determined by the court, you would have to petition the court (through your attorney) and request permission to travel while free on bail. Reasons may include:
- Travel that was scheduled before your arrest
- Travel that is a necessary part of your job
- Travel to visit an ill or dying loved one
The court must decide whether permitting your travel is within the interests of the State (to ensure that you do not flee or reoffend). And while interstate travel is sometimes permitted, the court is still likely to place certain restrictions upon it. These may include:
- Regular check-ins with a court officer
- Regular check-ins with your bond agent
- Staying in communication with the court via your attorney
- Making all court-stipulated appearances as scheduled
What Happens if You Break Travel Conditions?
Travelling in defiance of court bail restrictions is NOT recommended. The courts have several options in dealing with noncompliant defendants. A judge or magistrate may:
- Issue a warning
- Increase your bond amount
- Revoke your bond
If your bond is revoked, you will be deemed a fugitive, and law enforcement will seek your re-arrest. Also, if you obtained your bond using collateral (such as real estate, jewelry, or a vehicle), that property may be forfeit. Thus it is highly encouraged that you meet all conditions set by the courts.
At Bond James Bond, we understand how upsetting an arrest can be. Each day, we work with defendants and their families to help them secure pretrial release. If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with a crime, contact one of our licensed surety agents today and discover how Bond James Bond can help.
Bond, James Bond, Inc. can handle any size or type of Georgia bail bonds in Barrow County, Bartow County, Cherokee County, Clarke County, Cobb County, Floyd County, Gordon County, Gwinnett County, Paulding County and Polk County. We are always open - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays. We have 11 locations that are conveniently located to serve you better.