First timeappearingin court

By Katrina Goforth -

The number of those incarcerated at the Jackson County Jail increases on a regular basis. Some of those inmates remain for a short time and are released, while others are transferred to higher security correctional facilities.

Even so, each person taken to the jail has a standing appointment to meet with a judge on Thursday after being arrested.

Initial appearances begin at 9 a.m. every Thursday. At this time, those arrested in the last week, now incarcerated defendants, have the chance to talk with a judge about all legal rights and to discuss the amount of bond that has been posted. At that time, defendants are also given the date of the next court appearance.

In misdemeanor cases, the defendant may post bond in lieu of serving more time in jail, which disqualifies him or her from a court-appointed lawyer. Those unable to post bond serve jail time and have the option to use a lawyer appointed by the court, though one can be hired instead.

In felony cases, the defendant is given the option to enter a plea on the charges.

Bonds can be in the thousands of dollars, and these do not include any court costs or fines that may also be incurred by the defendant. Fines and court costs are often resolved through negotiated payment plans that make them easier to be paid off. For those wishing to skip the jail time and pay off the bond, the use of a bail bonds agent can be a viable option.

Bonds agents generally charge 10 percent of the bond that has been posted by the state. This is a non-refundable fee and compensates the bondsman for his or her services. For example, if the bond is set for $25,000, the resulting fee will be $2,500.

Bonds agents pledge money or property as bail. Often, bonds agents will accept property as collateral instead of money, but this varies from state to state and from agent to agent.

For those wishing to hire a lawyer, consider the various ways lawyers can bill their time. Most commonly, lawyers charge an hourly fee, but may also bill by the case with a fixed fee that varies depending on the type of case. Lawyers may also charge an hourly fee with a cap. This means that the defendant agrees to pay an hourly fee up to a certain amount, at which time, any remaining hours would be accomplished at no extra cost.

There are also retainer fees to consider, which are charged in addition to hourly or by case billing.

By Katrina Goforth

Reach Katrina Goforth at 580-482-1221, ext. 2077.

Reach Katrina Goforth at 580-482-1221, ext. 2077.

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