Administration of Justice Bulletin #2020/05

COVID-19, Pretrial Detention, and Bond Determinations

Thursday, October 29, 2020

The state of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the relative risk it poses to the health of criminal defendants, may play a significant role in the determination of bond conditions and whether a person remains in pretrial custody. Some defendants in other jurisdictions, citing the pandemic and the unique challenges it poses in the jail setting, have successfully challenged bond determinations by asserting that constitutional or statutory standards that preclude excessive bail or the denial of bail have been violated. These types of challenges may also be brought in the North Carolina criminal courts. The Supreme Court of North Carolina has recognized that criminal defendants may challenge bail as excessive or otherwise unconstitutional either through a “motion to reduce bond or exercise [of the] remedy of habeas corpus.”1 A defendant may use either mechanism to raise arguments in support of a bond reduction.2 Attorneys seeking bond or modification of bond should include in their motion each of the relevant statutory and constitutional grounds for relief.

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