Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Michael Clark set bond for the four Meadowcreek High School students charged with the armed robbery of a man at the Orchard Park Apartments in Norcross last month. The students are all current or former members of the school’s football team. The bond was set at $50,000, and the judge imposed a condition of house arrest and ankle monitoring.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution has the story.
Bond in armed robbery cases is not automatic and it usually takes some time to get a full hearing in court. Georgia law provides that pretrial bond in certain serious crimes (like armed robbery) can only be set by a superior court judge. (For most felonies, bond can be set by a schedule at the jail or by a local magistrate judge.) Because superior court judges are the only judges who can set bond in this type of case, it also generally takes longer for defendants to get bond hearings when they are charged with armed robbery. In some jurisdictions, however, the local superior court judges empower certain magistrate judges to set bond in these cases. That often shortens the time that the defendant has to wait for a hearing, but it doesn’t necessarily improve the chances that bond will be granted. Like so many other things in the Georgia criminal justice system, a lot depends on the particular judge conducting the hearing.
Our firm has successfully handled many armed robbery cases. We know from experience that the issue of bond is vitally important, not just to the person in jail but also to his or her family. If bond is granted, it also helps the lawyer and client communicate more freely and work to build a better defense. There is also less pressure to enter a quick guilty plea simply to avoid more jail time.
Now that bond has been set for these defendants, the case will remain pending until the DA’s office obtains a grand jury indictment. In Gwinnett County, that process can take several months.