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Understanding Bond and Pretrial Release in Kentucky

Monday, October 3, 2016 by Kristin Russell

We often receive questions from first time offenders and out-of-state defendants and their families about how bond works in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In this post we will cover the basics and answer some common questions about bond and pretrial release.

Does Kentucky Have Bail Bondsmen?

No. Kentucky was actually the first state in the nation to abolish for-profit bail bonding in 1976. Kentucky is one of only a few states that has outlawed bail bondsmen and private commercial bail bonds.

How And When Is Bond Set?

Pretrial Services, a state agency created by the Kentucky Legislature, administers a pretrial release program and makes release recommendations to the courts. Pretrial Services utilizes a pretrial risk assessment to make release recommendations. Section 446.010 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes defines “pretrial risk assessment” as “an objective, research-based, validated assessment tool that measures a defendant’s risk of flight and risk of anticipated criminal conduct while on pretrial release pending adjudication.” KRS 446.010. Pretrial Services operates in all of Kentucky’s 120 counties and supervises defendants by monitoring any conditions placed on the defendant by the court.

Within 24 hours of arrest, a Pretrial officer will interview the defendant. The officer will collect and verify the defendant’s information, such as the defendant’s name, address and length of residence, ties to the community, employment, education, and criminal history. The officer will also perform an extensive criminal background check on the defendant. The officer will then utilize the pretrial risk assessment to predict the defendant’s flight risk, anticipated criminal behavior and danger to the community. Pretrial Services then makes recommendations to the court about whether a defendant is eligible for release. Defendants may have to wait for a judge to review the recommendations made by Pretrial Services before bond can be posted.

What Types Of Bail And Pretrial Release Are Available In Kentucky?

According to Rule 4.04 of the Kentucky Rules of Criminal Procedure,

(1) The only authorized methods of pretrial release are on the following or any combination thereof as the court determines:

  • personal recognizance
  • unsecured bail bond
  • nonfinancial conditions
  • executed bail bond
  • with sufficient personal surety acceptable to the court; or
  • with a deposit with the court of a sum of money equal to at least ten percent of the bond; or
  • with a deposit with the court of cash equal to the amount of the bond; or
  • with stocks or bonds which are not exempt from execution and which over and above all liabilities and encumbrances have a value equal to the total amount of the bond; or
  • with real property having a value over and above all liabilities and encumbrances, equal to twice the value of the bond; or
  • in cases of motor vehicle traffic violations, with a guaranteed arrest bond certificate as provided in KRS 431.020

(2) Nonfinancial conditions may be imposed upon any bail bond in the manner provided in RCr 4.14.

(3) The court shall determine the method of pretrial release and the manner in which a bail bond is executed.

According to Rule 4.10 of the Kentucky Rules of Criminal Procedure,

A defendant shall be released on personal recognizance or upon an unsecured bail bond unless the court determines, in the exercise of its discretion, that such release will not reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant as required. In the exercise of such discretion the court shall give due consideration to recommendations of the local pretrial services agency when made as authorized by order of the Supreme Court.

Rule 4.12 of the Kentucky Rules of Criminal Procedure states,

If a defendant’s promise to appear or his or her execution of an unsecured bail bond alone is not deemed sufficient to insure his or her appearance when required, the court shall impose the least onerous conditions reasonably likely to insure the defendant’s appearance as required. Such conditions of release may include but are not limited to placing the defendant in the custody of a designated person or organization agreeing to supervise the defendant or to placing restrictions on the defendant’s travel, association or place of abode during the period of release. Commensurate with the risk of nonappearance the court may impose any other condition including a condition requiring the defendant to return to custody after specified hours.

According to Rule 4.14 of the Kentucky Rules of Criminal Procedure,

The court shall cause the issuance of an order containing a statement of any conditions imposed upon the defendant for his or her release. The defendant shall sign the statement of conditions and receive a copy thereof. The order shall inform the defendant of penalties applicable to violation of conditions and advise that a warrant for the defendant’s arrest will be issued if conditions are violated. The court shall also inform the local pre-trial services agency of the conditions of release.

Section 431.525 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes states, in pertinent part,

The amount of the bail shall be (a) sufficient to insure compliance with the conditions of release set by the court; (b) not oppressive; (c) commensurate with the nature of the offense charged; (d) considerate of the past criminal acts and the reasonably anticipated conduct of the defendant if released; and (e) considerate of the financial ability of the defendant.

Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 431.525 (Lexis 2016).

Do Defendants Need An Attorney To Get A Bond Reduction In Kentucky?

If you have a loved one who has been arrested and is facing criminal charges, consider hiring an attorney to be present at the first court appearance. The first court appearance is often the best time for a lawyer to review the Pretrial Services reports and recommendations and ask for a bond reduction or release. It is possible the Court may reduce a defendant’s bond without counsel, but it is important to have an experienced and zealous advocate at this first crucial stage of the criminal proceeding. You should hire a lawyer who is familiar with the legal criteria for determining pretrial release and the procedures that will be followed in setting those conditions.

We are local defense counsel familiar with the courts and knowledgeable about the operations of Pretrial Services and experienced in interpreting Pretrial Services reports, pretrial risk assessments, and pretrial recommendations. Because being released from jail pretrial is often the most important first problem facing our clients, we are passionate about pretrial release advocacy.