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What guidelines do North Carolina magistrates have to follow when setting bail?

The question regarding bail has come up in recent days after CMPD Chief Jennings criticized the low bond of an offender.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Many in Charlotte have been wondering about the process of bonds lately. Last week, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings criticized a magistrate for setting a shooting suspect's bond too low.

So what guidelines, if any, do magistrates have to follow when setting someone's bond?

THE QUESTION

Are bail bonds clearly defined for most offenses in North Carolina?

OUR SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, bail bonds are not clearly defined for more offenses in North Carolina.

WHAT WE FOUND

Magistrates set bonds in North Carolina based on how likely the defendant is to show up in court and whether they're a danger to society.

North Carolina judicial guidelines do not outline permanent bond amounts for most offenses.

Instead, McCartan said, a magistrate can consider the current environment and trends when setting someone's bond.

"Classic example: weed," McCartan said. "We had a discussion 15 years ago, somebody with a couple ounces a weed, it wouldn't be uncommon for them to have a 10, 15, $20,000 bond hung on them and being charged with possession with intent. Now, marijuana culture currently, no, you're given a citation saying make sure you don't screw up your court date." 

McCartan also said magistrates won't even set an initial bond for some charges, like domestic assault.

"They're gonna hang out with no bond for at least 24 hours," McCartan said. "Let cooler heads prevail...magistrates have broad discretion. In fact, that broad discretion is so broad, that if somebody is held on a bond, it is generally understood that within 24 to 48 hours, they have to get in front of another judicial official, an elected official."

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