09 October 2012

To Bond or Not to Bond

Do you ever wish that your client does not make bond--that he stays put, in jail until his case is finished? This is an occasional wish of mine. There are two reasons for this: first, the defendant vanishes without a mailing address or a phone; and second, he is rearrested and put back into jail before the first charge is fully addressed. In the first instance, you or your staff can spend a great deal of time trying to find a defendant. Some verge on the homeless, some move from one acquaintance's residence to another, or they find a new fiancee with whom to share bed and board. The thought of confiding in his attorney on a method of communication has fled his consciousness. He is now living for the moment. Normally your client will immediately obtain a cell phone with some prepaid minutes but the minutes are too precious to be calling legal counsel about the next court date. I'm willing to have a court date continued once and possibly twice but by the third no show my attitude is if he is in jail, I will know where to find him and we might get this thing rapped up. Practicing as a criminal defense attorney has an element of baby sitting to it One has to expect that, but there are limits. The second issue is whether your client can maintain long enough to dispose of the current charges before he gathers more. I have a client now facing two felonies but with a plea offer he will have probation granted more likely than not. The deal with the county attorney's office is for probation. However, he made bond, did well for a few months, and is now back in jail on new charges. The new charges are not severe enough to put him in prison, but the fact that he has them means the deal with the county attorney's office on the previous charges is off the table and to prison he will go. Your efforts, as this fellow's attorney, are wasted. The conversations with the prosecutor where you suggested the previous criminal acts were simply a misunderstanding and your client now has his act together are conversations you wish you never had since he probably won't believe you next time either. Your creditability has been damaged and the prosecutor reminds himself that he knows your client better than you do. And there you have it.