In a recent opinion coming out of a Virginia court, the higher court disagreed with the lower court’s decision to grant a defendant bond. The lower court had previously decided that, since the defendant had been incarcerated for a long time, he should be allowed to leave prison before his trial was heard. The higher court disagreed, saying that this sole factor of time spent incarcerated was not enough reason to let the defendant out of prison earlier than originally planned.
The Facts of the Case
In September 2019, the defendant was charged, arrested, and incarcerated because of possession of a firearm after having been previously convicted of a violent felony. The defendant was first told to show up in court in October 2019; he appeared for his first hearing, and then waited for his case to be heard by the circuit court in Virginia. The defendant was called into court again in January 2020 for a bail hearing, but he requested that his hearing be postponed so that he could retrieve new counsel. Over time, the defendant kept requesting that his hearing be postponed, and his case was not heard in court until April 2021 as a result.
When the bail hearing finally happened, the defendant reassured the court that if he were released on bail, he would live with his mother and would have the ongoing support of his family. The defendant also asked the court if he could temporarily leave prison for one day the next week in order to attend the funeral of his grandmother who had recently passed away. At the hearing, the defendant’s mother testified by phone, saying she was sure that her son would “keep the peace” if he were allowed to attend his grandmother’s funeral.
After the hearing finished, the court said that it would offer the defendant a bond with strict conditions, given that he had been incarcerated for a long time. Because he had already served a significant amount of time in prison, the court agreed that he should be released on bond.
The court disagreed with the lower court’s decision to grant bond. It was true, said the court, that a defendant should generally be admitted to bail while awaiting their trial. The court also noted, though, that there is an exception in that if a defendant is charged with firearm possession that provides for a mandatory minimum sentence, the court must consider more carefully whether that defendant should receive bond.
In this case, the lower court did not carefully consider whether or not the defendant should be granted bond. The higher court pointed out that the only reasoning the lower court provided was that the defendant had been in prison for a long time. The higher court said that the lower court failed to articulate its reasons for granting bond, and that it did not actually think critically about whether or not to keep the defendant in prison. Accordingly, the higher court disagreed with the lower court and reversed its order granting the defendant pre-trial bail.
Have You Been Unfairly Denied Bond in Virginia?
If you or a loved one have been treated unfairly in a bond hearing in Virginia, you still have options moving forward. There are potential defenses you can raise, and at Robinson Law, PLLC, we are prepared to walk you through your options and craft a defense strategy to fight your case. With over 50 years of combined experience in criminal defense law, we are committed to the cause of making sure that your voice is heard. For a free and confidential consultation, call us at (703) 844-3746.