Finding yourself or a friend or loved one in jail can be a stressful experience. There are many questions and worries you may have, and navigating the criminal justice system is very confusing for many people. In Kentucky, approximately three out four defendants are released before their case disposition. While we cannot provide you with legal advice on your exact situation, we can hopefully answer some common questions and explain the basic procedures of what typically happens when someone is arrested in Kentucky.
While there are exceptions and variances in local procedures, when someone is arrested in Kentucky they are transported by a police officer to a nearby jail. Then the following things are likely to occur:
1. They will be “booked” into jail. While procedures vary from one jail to another jail, generally the booking process includes getting a photograph (“mugshot”) taken, being fingerprinted, and asked basic questions, such as name, date of birth, address, etc. They are also searched for contraband and sometimes given a jail uniform to change into. Usually, physical and mental health screens are also conducted. While operating procedures may vary at each jail facility, most will allow the defendant to make a call to family or friends after they have been booked or received their release decision.
2. A Pretrial Officer will ask the defendant (the person jailed) if they would consent to a pretrial interview. While it is not mandatory, information from the pretrial interview may be used to aid in getting the person released from jail. The interview is short and information collected by the Pretrial Officer is confidential and used only for court-related purposes allowable by statutes and criminal rules.
3. The Pretrial Officer will check the defendant’s criminal history and conduct a risk assessment of the defendant’s likelihood to appear in court and not get re-arrested while their case is pending should the defendant be released from jail.
4. Within 24 hours of the defendant’s incarceration, the Pretrial Officer presents the information they gathered to a local judge and makes a release recommendation based on the risk assessment.
5. The judge then makes the actual release decision, which is then given to the jail. For more information on a particular defendant’s bond or release status, please contact your local Pretrial Office or the jail. There are different release options available to the judge; the most common types of release utilized by judges are:
NON-FINANCIAL OPTIONS OF RELEASE:
• Release on Recognizance (ROR or OR) — requires only the signature of the defendant, a promise to appear in court as scheduled, and abide by any conditions that may be imposed by the Court.
• Unsecured Release — requires that the defendant sign, promise to appear and abide by any conditions imposed by the Court. There is an uncollected money amount attached to this type of release and a defendant’s failure to appear in court, or a defendant’s failure to abide by conditions imposed, could lead to a forfeiture that the defendant would be required to pay.
• Third-Party Surety Release — requires a third party to sign with the defendant. The party signing will usually be required to own property but a lien will not necessarily be placed upon the property. These types of bail releases are subject to approval on a local basis. If the defendant does not show up for court appearances or does not abide by conditions that may be imposed by the Court, the third-party surety may be subject to forfeiture by the Court. The amount of the forfeiture would be the amount set as bail.
FINANCIAL OPTIONS OF RELEASE:
Per Kentucky law (KRS 431.510), it is illegal for bail bondsmen to engage in business by furnishing “bail or funds or property to serve as bail or make bonds or enter into undertakings as surety.”
• Cash — requires full cash amount to posted plus fees. If a person chooses to post this type of release on behalf of a defendant, and the defendant does not show up for court appearances or does not abide by conditions that may be imposed by the Court, the bail will be subject to forfeiture by the Court. If no violations of the conditions occur, then the full amount will be refunded to the person who posted it upon disposition of the case.
• Property — requires Kentucky property owners to have equity in their property that is equal to twice the face amount of the bail in order to qualify. A lien will be placed on this property to secure the bail. Once again, if the defendant does not show up for court appearances or does not abide by conditions that may be imposed by the Court, the value of the posted property will be subject to forfeiture by the Court. There are also fees for processing this type of bond. The lien on the property will be released upon disposition of the case.
• Partially Secured — requires a percentage of the cash amount set as bail (usually 10%, but can vary). For example, if bail has been set at $500 @ 10%, then $50 would be required to have the defendant released. There is a 10% processing fee for this type of bail; once the case is disposed, the remaining 90% of the posted bail will be refunded. If the defendant does not show up for court appearances or does not abide by conditions that may be imposed by the Court, the full amount of the set bail, in this example, $500, may be required as forfeiture by the Court.
• Administrative Release – A defendant meeting specific criteria by Supreme Court Order may be released without a judge or judicial officer being contacted. Currently, this option is not available in all counties but will be in place throughout the Commonwealth by January 1, 2017. Check with your local Pretrial Office to see if your county is participating.